You Represent More Than You Think

Know it or not, wherever you work, you represent that company to outsiders. It matters little if you’re at the top of the org chart or even at the very bottom. If you’re one of the only people they know at your company then for all intense and purposes YOU ARE the company.

The reputation of the entire organization can rest on your shoulders.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re in the market for a Flat Panel TV before the big game on Sunday. You swing into XYZ electronics, a large national electronics chain store and pick out a gigantic 196 inch beauty. It has surround sound and some sort of shaking device so you can actually feel it when players hit the ground. It is simply awesome!

You have your friends over on Sunday and since you’ve been bragging up your 196 beast of a TV they too can hardly wait for the game to begin. You push the ON button and nothing happens. Nothing. You push it a few more times, still nothing and then the hoots and hollers of your “friends” begin.

Ha they say, that sure is one heck of a TV you got there. You are embarrassed and more than a little mad. So…. You call the XYZ store and as luck would have it you get a 16 year old kid on the phone who is absolutely disinterested in your problem. He tells you it would be best if you called back on Monday when the “TV guy” was in.

Now you’re VERY unhappy and you’re not going to be happy with that store, or that kid, anytime soon.

A couple of weeks later someone asks if you know of a good store to buy a TV. So what do you say? Do you say, “yes, XYZ is great, just look out for that 16 year old kid” or… do you say “don’t go near that XYZ outfit, “they” don’t have a clue what they are doing.

If you’re like me, and most people, you wouldn’t have anything good to say about anything that has anything to do with XYZ or it’s 50,000 employees around the country.

Because of one 16 year old kid. Who didn’t even sell you the TV.

It’s not fair that the whole organization is painted with the brush of one individual interaction but that’s often how it is.

You see, you not only represent your company, you also represent your fellow employees of the company. You may not be in Public Relations, you may not get paid to deal with customers but when people discover where you work you DO represent your company. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All day, everyday.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, can’t be yourself, or just “let your hair down.” It does mean that you need to be aware of your surroundings, who is near you, how you are behaving and what you are saying. I’m told there are even some people who have cameras in their phones now so this is doubly important these days. 😏

Whether you think you have a crummy job, a menial job, a low paying job, whether it is a temp job, or part time job doesn’t matter, you have an obligation to represent yourself professionally because it’s not just you that you represent.

You may not like this thought, you may not agree with this concept but you do have to understand it because it’s true. Yes, I know those are high standards but you know that successful people set high standards for themselves. I encourage you to set the bar very high for yourself.

Remember, you don’t guard the reputation of your company and your colleagues because you’re paid money to work there, you do it because it’s the right thing to do.

You’ll never go wrong doing what’s right!

How to Sell More of Anything

Next week in Baltimore I’ll present a “How to Sell” class to a group of professionals. Not sales professionals, in fact, these professionals may very well have a certain disdain at even the thought of selling. 

As I prepared for the presentation I knew instinctively that a traditional sales training session was out of the question. No sales process or technique would be of interest or value to this group. While “selling” is important to their profession it is not something they are comfortable with and not something they do on a daily basis.

That got me to thinking about the essence of selling and what it really takes to sell effectively. The answer that popped into my head was trust and relationships.

People buy from people they like and trust. People don’t buy from companies or machines. Yes, we sometimes buy stuff online and through vending machines but usually even then someone, a person, has previously convinced us that it would be a good purchase.

The presentation morphed into a “Building Trusting Relationships” session and it quickly occurred to me that this isn’t just a great topic for non-traditional salespeople, it’s a valuable topic for all sales professionals. 

Salespeople, at least less successful salespeople, tend to focus all their energies on “telling” their prospect about the product. They spend far too little time on building the type of relationship that will help the prospect trust them as a person and as a result the prospect remains suspect about most everything the salesperson says.

The most successful salespeople don’t focus on themselves or their product, they focus on their customer and their customer’s wants and needs. They start that process by learning about their customer’s goals and objectives and it is from those conversations that a real relationship blooms.  

The most successful salespeople treat people with courtesy, politeness, and kindness. They listen to what others have to say before expressing their own thoughts. Successful salespeople do not insult, disparage or knock another person’s ideas. Even if that other person is a competitive salesperson. Especially if that other person is a competitive salesperson! 

The most successful salespeople have long ago thrown out the Golden Rule and replaced it with the Platinum Rule: Treat others as they wish to be treated.

The most successful salespeople don’t play the blame game. They accept responsibility for their actions and they honor their commitments. They share credit for their success knowing full well that no salesperson can succeed long-term without a lot of support from others in their organization.

The most successful salespeople avoid wasting time and are consistent planners. They are genuinely interested in other people and believe they can learn from anyone. They smile often and always, always, always maintain control of their attitude. Simply put, they are the type of person we all enjoy being around. 

Now, for those of you who have never sold a thing or are in a position that requires a non-traditional sales approach, just remove the word “sales” from every sentence above. What you’ll discover is that the way to sell more of anything is to be a successful person. 

Once you have developed the skill of building trusting relationships, sincere relationships, well then you can sell most anything to most anyone. 

You see, great salespeople are also great people.

Authentic Leaders Don’t Expect to be Respected

Yes, you read that title correctly. I’ve never met an authentic leader who expected respect. Every authentic leader I’ve ever met knew from the start that any respect they received would have to be earned. 

There is no such thing as unearned respect. Your position or title doesn’t earn you respect; people may respect your position or title and they may respect the office you occupy but that doesn’t mean they respect you. 

That kind of personal respect must be earned and re-earned frequently. 

If you want respect then be respectful. Authentic leaders know that the best, and fastest, way to earn respect is to be respectful of others. When you talk down to people, when you put your needs before theirs, and when you “fudge” on the integrity issue you lose respect.

You can be powerful, you can be brilliant, and you can have the appearance of success, and you still won’t have the respect of those around you. 

Authentic leaders are humble leaders. The world renown Pastor at our church recently retired after over 30 years in the pulpit. He was replaced by a 30 something Pastor with no prior experience leading any size church much less a large congregation like ours. That’s pretty heady stuff, most of the members of his staff are considerably more experienced than him, yet he is the guy. Today I heard him introduce himself as one of the Pastors here at Bethlehem. 

He could have rightfully said Lead Pastor or Head Pastor but instead he said one of the Pastors. That’s humble! That earns respect. Sadly, that type of humble leadership is all too rare these days.

I’m going to doing something now that I wouldn’t normally do and something I don’t recommend, I’m going to make a very general broad statement. Here it is: if you’re constantly bragging about your power or your position or your brilliance I’d be willing to bet your people don’t have a lot of respect for you.

It’s like this; authentic leaders don’t need to boss because they lead. They don’t need to command respect because their people willingly give it. To be more precise, they don’t need to command respect because their people give it back. 

If you want to be respected then show some respect, and remember, you’re the leader, you go first!