October 01, 2006

Good day, team,

This week’s challenge is about salesmanship and the power of belief. I once asked a client who is the CEO of a medium-sized company how he spent his time each day: what he actually did and what percentage of his time was spent directing, managing and leading. He replied, ‘”Frankly, I spend 95 percent of my time selling and 5 percent ensuring that we make a profit.”

He went on to explain that he realized that in almost every conversation he had-whether with board members, shareholders, team members, his direct reports, industry analysts, suppliers or customers-he was constantly telling them what the company did best, how it delivered better than anyone else, and why the people in the company were great.

Ironically, this man didn’t particularly like selling, and it hadn’t been his career path: He had started out as an accountant. However, he had learned over time that as CEO, he was the person who truly represented and spoke for the company as a whole, and if he couldn’t convince others of its excellence, the company would fail under his leadership. As he said, “If I can’t sell this to anyone within the company and anyone outside the company, then I shouldn’t be in this position. I have to believe more strongly than anyone else how good we are, how terrific our people are, and how our particular brand of service and products is better than anyone else’s. I have to know what we do best and believe that we do it better than anyone else. Otherwise, no one will believe me, and they’ll go with someone else who’s more convincing.”

His experience reminded me how powerful it is to have someone believe in us and in what we do. All of the good leaders I know believe in their people first and foremost. These leaders show-not just in their words, but in their actions-that they respect their employees, and they encourage them to continue to do what they do best. Interestingly enough, by doing this they also attract the same kind of respect and admiration from their team members. This doesn’t mean that they expect perfection from anyone, just that they see what is best in others and they continue to call on it in their daily business practices.

In coaching, we call it the “law of attraction,” that is, you get back what you give out. So if you’re unhappy with the work your people do and you think they’re not sharp enough, they tend to feel the same way about you. If you disagree with them a lot and humilate them in front of others, they will do the same to you, and so on.

Most important, what we reveal in our treatment of others is, in fact, how we feel about ourselves. We tend to project the same feelings we have about ourselves. So if we love and admire ourselves, we tend to give out those emotions toward others, and they evoke the same emotions in return.

All good leaders know that the real trick to selling anything is being authentic in the sale: You have to believe in what you’re selling. If you’re convinced that you and your people have the best to offer, then all you need to do is communicate it, and the sale happens. But if you don’t believe it, you can’t sell it. Whatever you believe is what you’re selling!

Have a great week!


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *