The passing of my mentor and the power of believing

Many of you have heard me refer to my mentor in my sales training sessions over the years. He passed away last weekend. He taught me a lot about sales & believing.

Bob believed he could sell to anyone, because he believed he belonged with CEOs and once they met him, they would prefer doing business with him.   He took me under his wing 25 years ago and helped me launch my sales consulting career. He believed in me, and in my future success, even when I could not yet believe in myself.

Bob fought the battle of his life – to defy death and hold his life-threatening disease at bay for 14 years. He believed he could, and he did – many years beyond what his health care providers ever thought was possible.

If you are in sales, it is important to believe in the people you are working with. If you are a sales leader, do you believe in each of the people working on your team? Great leaders surround themselves with people they fully believe can execute the mission of their organization. And, any communication with them is in alignment with this belief.

Leaders who believe in their people, speak to their greatness, to what they can be, to what they can become. They hold the vision of what the person has the potential to become, and they call it forth. It’s as if they see each team member’s future before they can see it. In a way, they hold the vision of their future possibility, while allowing and challenging the extraneous limitations, fears, insecurities and non-productive behaviors to fall away.

At times, sales leaders must forcefully and clearly call out the non-effective, self-limiting behaviors. These conversations are never easy, but they are framed in the context of knowing who the person can become. And, more importantly, the salesperson has to know the leader is just as committed to their success as they are and to becoming a future rising star. Communicating the commitment is the foundation that allows the tough feedback to be spoken in a way it can be heard.

It is this believing in the other, this calling forward their potential, this speaking to what is possible, what is real, what is their best self that inspires employees to achieve their potential. Bob, my mentor, did this with me. He had a way of inspiring through telling stories, painting pictures, and at times being totally outrageous.

If you are selling, the same believing applies to all interactions with your customers. When you talk to your prospective customer, it is essential that you see within them the capacity to achieve the outcome they are seeking. Customers can get stuck when attempting to achieve their desired outcome. At times, they are not sure exactly what it is they need or want. Sometimes they know what they want, but are not sure they can afford it, or that they will choose correctly, or that they will be able to persuade their colleagues their purchase will pay off. Sometimes they have to fight the established order, the rules or policies of a large organization in order to purchase when it means big change. In all of these situations, the salesperson plays the role of the believer, holding fast the possibility that the buyer can in fact attain their goal.

By respecting each customer, listening carefully to what they want, then believing in them to have the capacity to obtain what they want, and collaborating via co-commitment to accomplish their vision can be the intangible factor that allows the customer to accomplish extraordinary things. Salespeople who believe in their customers and speak to their capacity to accomplish and obtain their desired outcomes not only inspire, but challenge at just the right times. But, challenging without first demonstrating strong commitment to the customer’s success rarely is effective.

In many ways, great sales leaders and salespeople are like great coaches. Coaches see the potential within their team and players. They select the players they believe can win. They work with them and push them to learn great habits and mindsets. They challenge them when the players falter to never give up, and to dig deeper, to find a way, to let go of behaviors and beliefs that limit their potential. My mentor Bob demonstrated the most tenacious will to never give up that I have ever seen. His courage and commitment to living life to the full was such a demonstration of his strong belief not only in himself but also in the difference he made in the lives he touched.

I will miss my dear friend and mentor. He helped to call forth my own greatness, as he did for many, many others. He left a powerful legacy of the power of believing, and I will miss him greatly.

Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe in your team? Do you believe in your customers? Then let each interaction be grounded in that belief. When you do, you will call forth the best in not only yourself, but also everyone around you. Never underestimate the power of believing.

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