OVERHEATING: The Selling Mind
Why do people seek selling as a profession? For that matter why do people select ‘a’ specific profession? Do people select their formative job with a well informed and well thought out strategy or do they get conveniently lassoed into the job due to placements they secure, existing vacancies, good starting salary, company culture, because they have invested in a certain type of education, yielding to the ongoing trend (Finance, IT, Engineering, Law, Media, Medicine etc.) and similar other ‘staple diet’ reasons.
It could be a concoction of any of these as one attempts to retrospect own inceptive decisions in choosing a career. Lucrativeness is indeed ‘a’ criteria in job selection, its influence momentous, perhaps even uncompromising to many but stolidly pursuing money strips a career of its sense of enterprise and allure. A dread of monotony creeps in at some stage and in spite of having those big bucks many people feel their internal protestations to seek out for a career that they yearn for but manage to conceal and repress lifelong. Fundamental paradigms are shifting and young people these days choose their career with a good balance of passion, adventure and circumspection but somewhere midway it again merges with the familiar emergence of boredom making one inattentive and incurious at work triggering combustible overheating. It is not a dogmatic assertion; not everybody accosts boredom, there are significant others who wrench themselves free from insistence of familiarity in their career path and take a leap into the unknown and remain explorative with their life.
At the onset of one’s corporate career there is a precipitance for a specific functional area such as engineering, sales, public relations, HR, finance, branding, marketing, procurement, creative etc. but with passage of time, people soon realize that in order to grow and earn more money one needs to acquire more strategic and people skills hence devoutly hanker for span of control and hierarchical positions within the firm and this formulaic approach is easy to understand after all money, power, recognition, challenge etc. is foundationally embedded in our culture. But in the attainment of these hierarchical positions, the texture of one’s job changes and people remain submerged in administration tasks. The job content perhaps may not be as adventurous and it takes them away from their core passion but the money and span of control is irresistible for one to relinquish their position in order to pursue their genuine interests in life. Not pursuing a career in which one has a strong engrossment and affinity towards, will lead to discontent besides it is the least sanctioned career approach. Pursuing formative interests or reasons need nor remain static throughout life and one’s interests could vary but in the name of growth and titular embellishments of GM, VP, President etc., merely acceding to enslaving administration work and meetings inside the conference room is unimaginative. An important expression of enquiry would be to ask oneself whether 8 to 10 hours of such work, is it gratifying, does it fully tap abundant inner resources and potential, is there fulfillment and whether there would be constructive changes in one’s skill levels as one progresses.
A broad sweep of the reasons for which we go to work apart from these reasons of money, power, control etc. are:
- Sense of recognition
- The feeling of contributing to the firm
- Validation and approval from peer groups, team members and bosses
- Bracket of exclusivity due to our unique performance potential that differentiates us from others
- Thrill of creating innovative product/services, technological leaps etc.
Basically it all boils down to mattering. When mattering is threatened in anyway we become distressed. When those daily or weekly boosts, encouragements, accolades don’t come, work becomes mundane tasks and coming to office a chore. Just like the body needs to be fed everyday with food for its sustenance the mind needs validation and this aspect is so instinctual that even a small child keeps telling the parent ‘I love you’ so that they can hear the reinforcement lines in response ‘Love you too my baby’. Periodic buttress keeps one secure. Selling is a revenue-producing conduit of the organization and top management keeps a score of the triumph and losses. Consistently high performing sales people receive high validation, derive exclusivity, feel a sense of contribution, receive spate of recognition and elitist treatment. Selling is an outcome-based game, highly measurable and provides gratification provided the deals keep flowing in. Selling offers extension of its applicability beyond prescribed limits as one can keep winning deals beyond the stipulated quota and there is a tingle in that extra income through commissions, incentives etc. Selling offers luxury of the ‘experience of mattering’. Surgical life saving, hard fought court cases, non-exhibitionistic philanthropy, sports, technical innovation, space mission, medical breakthrough’s, there are 100’s of careers or incidences in life that provide this sense of mattering but the remit here is to understand the selling psyche.
SO WHY A CAREER IN SELLING?
Flexible schedule, liberation from daily office environment, interaction with clients basically the element of control as to which clients to pursue, when to meet, at what level of engagement, extra remuneration, faster growth etc. a kind of autonomy to plan and execute one’s work are few amongst people’s reasons to pursue a career in selling but chief amongst these are:
- The delight in making a deal happen
- The appeal of consultative selling
- The rainmaker’s enticement
- Conjuring up a relationship
- Nurturing the relationship, sustaining it and creating customer loyalty.
Selling is a deal centric profession and engenders a culture of winning for oneself, one’s own firm and more importantly for the client. It calls for unbounded resourcefulness from the sales person and as much as it is an esteem builder it also has the characteristics to cause seizure, overheating and immense sense of deprivation whenever deals dry up consequently causing aridity in praises from bosses. An engine’s cooling system’s ability to absorb, transport and dissipate heat has to be exemplary to prevent its overheating. Modern automobiles can easily run for 500 miles, about 8 to 10 hours without refueling in one stretch, such is the efficacy of its cooling system and it seems to happen in such perfect accord. To prevent the selling mind from overheating under occasional dry selling spells need remarkable discipline and mind control. The coping mechanism like the cooling system needs to be robust. Formula One car fuels use 50 additives to give it the appropriate boost during races. In the terrain where firms put inordinate pressure of working more and working faster, the selling mind needs similar additives in terms of preserving its boost and these additives have to be essentially provided by the sales person himself and his support system (manager, peer group, organization, family, friends etc.). The human body need to control its internal conditions such as temperature, acidity-alkalinity (pH balance), specific blood conditions etc. based upon changes in the external environment. This auto regulation of the body is called ‘Homeostasis’. For example when there is a surge in blood pressure the heart will slow down. If glucose levels are high then pancreas secretes insulin to stimulate glucose absorption and so on. Inability to maintain homeostasis leads to death. Selling mind for its preservation, seeks equivalence in its need for homeostasis.
It would be inadmissible to state that deals dry up as it is always there for the taking but value permeation to the customer hasn’t happened and alternate solutions in the market has emerged needless to say through competition and innovation hence customer is better informed and hesitant to do the deal with you. Rainmakers recognize this and interestingly don’t even operate at this level. Their sense of anticipation is supreme and even anticipation is a derogatory word to explicate their approach. They architect the pitch, rhetoric and recitations in their head, meticulously plan the ‘value proposition’ communion with the client, chalk out the structural arguments to convince, sequence client-side stakeholders interest and create the deal.
Consistency is the key here to prevent overheating. Sales people need to remain at the top of their game every year and there is no exception whatsoever. Targets will invariably be ratcheted upward year on year, more competitors will surface who belligerently attempt to dissolve differentiation and decimate product/service hegemony of others. In such a rugged terrain, to maintain homeostasis, is indeed a challenge. This is one of the reasons, sales people manifest desperation to move up the hierarchy as remaining in front line position in such an environment demand unceasing tenacity to keep winning, de-sensitization to rejections and stretch coping mechanisms. Not that one absolves oneself from selling responsibilities or pressure as one is promoted as ‘Sales Manager’ or ‘VP- Sales’ but this essential role switch or say promotion provides key validation for the front line sales person and constitute recognition. The fundamental premise however is that a selling mind must have the selling instinct at all times regardless of the title one is garnished with. Client centricity must be espoused by each sales personnel in the firm be it a front line sales person, sales manger, GM, VP or CEO. Overheating is not just a sales occurrence, all professions experience it and leadership teams must ensure that there is proper dissemination of this heat and must remain alert in diagnosing it early enough. Selling skills are not indestructible; it needs periodic sharpening to dovetail with the ongoing terrain. Overheating cannot be avoided but it can be effectively managed and the predominant aspect in its management is ‘one’s intrinsic love for selling as a profession’ regardless of how old one is. To sum up, select a career, which you love, attenuate the hierarchical chase, damn the reticence in pursuing adventure at any age and merge your ambition with a pursuit that will make you extraordinary, distinctive and useful to the society. It is in one’s decisions and selection where the mitigation plan for overheating is laid out.