I was thinking about my friend Don this morning. Years ago Don and I swam in the same Masters swimming program. We often swam in the same lane; though he was faster than I was and I usually spent the entire workout chasing his feet.
Don is a successful entrepreneur and a very positive thinker. Every morning he’d greet us on his arrival to the pool with a booming “What a great day! Today’s another opportunity to succeed!”
Back then his energy and genuine optimism were infectious.
Today I wonder if we’re too obsessed with success and greatness.
Everywhere I look (articles, books, social, TV) I see success inflation.
Sort of like grade inflation in high school and colleges.
The standards we use to define success, especially in sales, seem increasingly unrealistic and unattainable.
One seller told me in frustration about how his company’s managers parade a few top performers around on stage at their annual sales kick-off meeting and exhort everyone there to be just like these “role models.”
However, I believe that defining your success by comparing yourself to others is a losing proposition.
As with anything you pursue in life, you need to start by creating your own personal definition of success.
You should measure your success in sales only against the goals, objectives and purpose you’ve defined for you.
The path to achieving personal success, or personal greatness, means doing whatever is necessary to become the best possible version of yourself (and not a replica of that guy up on the stage.)
If you make that investment, then the only relevant measure of success is whether you’ve attained the goals and purpose you set out for yourself.
The problem in sales is that sales bosses use just one yardstick to measure success for everyone: quota.
Since the beginning of the modern B2B sales era, in the 1890’s, companies have attempted to create an army of sales clones to robotically execute a sales process that’s geared to attain this uniform measure of success.
And, how has that approach worked out?
Not well. It’s resulted in such systemic mediocrity that sales research firms routinely report that barely 50% of B2B sales reps meet their quota each year.
Perhaps someday sales bosses will wake up to realize that rigid conformity and uniform measures of success are not the path to predictable sales performance.
As an alternative, instead of forcing sellers to be like everyone else, let’s enable them with the right tools and resources to cultivate their individual greatness.
Then, hold them accountable to achieve standards of success that they’ve defined for themselves.
Recent research has made it clear that if you want to people to be self-motivated to thrive, then they have to be given the freedom to make choices and have those choices reflect their personal goals, objectives and values.
Isn’t it time to give this approach a try?
Bestselling author of Amp Up your Sales and Zero Time Selling, Andy Paul is #8 on LinkedIn’s list of the Top 50 Global Sales Experts to follow. With more than 170,000 followers, Andy is a highly sought-after speaker and sales sage who interviews the world’s foremost sales minds and extraordinarily interesting people to bring you strategies and insights that you can use to generate epic wins and massive value.