The best part of giving a keynote address is getting the opportunity to hear so many valuable and insightful comments from attendees. The comments often make me think about how other people see sales and my topic of sales culture. Last week, I had an amazing conversation with someone about the role of vulnerability in making more sales and, by extension, creating a better sales culture. Our conversation was the inspiration for this month’s feature.
Today’s economy and the events of the last few years have made people fearful for the security of their jobs and livelihoods. No news there, and I get that. Where this begins to veer off track is that when people think they are going to lose their jobs, they try to hold on tighter to them. In doing so, they tend to take on more and more responsibility. And when people take on more responsibility than they can realistically handle, they become inefficient and less successful. In other words, holding on tighter in an attempt to ensure job security is actually harmful.
How Can You Become Vulnerable and Improve Your Job Security at the Same Time?
So how can you let go, become vulnerable, and actually improve your standings in your organization? I think the answer lies in what I have been talking about for years. In a sales culture, people know that they play a vital role in the sales cycle. And regardless of whether their role is visible or not, it is an essential part of the sales system. So although in some cases an individual’s contributions may not be immediately seen, he or she knows that it is key to clients ultimately saying “yes.” This is the essence of sales culture.
In organizations that are more siloed – and hence dysfunctional – I believe there are people who think that gripping very tightly to their jobs and staying beneath the radar will increase the odds that they will be “okay.” Here’s the rub – you are more likely to be seen as a valuable member of the company if you know your “line of sight to revenue,” make yourself more collaborative, and, thus, more vulnerable. Yes, giving it up means getting more. Here are three key points to remember:
- Vulnerability is tough. Letting go is hard. But by holding on to all the responsibilities, you increase the chances of becoming mediocre because you can’t do it all – and you don’t have to.
- Vulnerability is noble. People want to deal with people who know what they do and know what they don’t do. In this way, being vulnerable earns you respect. Plus, you’ll find people will want to have you as part of their team! When you are engaged for what you do well, you increase your security, your role in the sales process, and subsequently, the customer experience.
- Vulnerability is professional. It takes a high degree of professionalism and maturity to know that you contribute in a certain way and in other ways you don’t. Knowing where that line is and when not to cross it is the hallmark of a true professional and someone I want to buy from.
Vulnerability Is Cool!
Sales is a complex series of interactions among people who contribute some form of intellectual capital to the sales process. And it is through these interactions that clients or prospects get what they need to say yes. This is how I have defined sales culture for years. When you accept that staying focused on your own area of expertise is valuable, you’ll be at peace with being vulnerable. Most important, you’ll be confident and on your game. The sales team and the client will see this and they’ll say “yes!” Vulnerability is indeed money in the bank.