When I first started selling, I learned a lesson that has stuck with me — and shaped everything I do since then. I learned to believe, “It’s my God-given right to 100% share of customer and 100% share of territory!” I also learned it was my responsibility to figure out how to achieve this.
Many of you may reject this as being obnoxious–representing the worst thinking of a sales person. After all, it is impossible to achieve 100% share–and if you did, it might be considered illegal.
But the principle, the belief, the attitude it created within me is where the real power of this statement lies.
Views like “win some, lose some;” “winning my fair share;” or even “trying really hard;” all became foreign concepts to me.
This mindset changed the way I looked at everything, here some areas:
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I became a fierce competitor. Under this principle, I knew if I lost it was likely that I had been outsold. I may have been chasing the wrong opportunity where I couldn’t compete effectively. I may not have really understood or addressed what the customer was trying to achieve. I may not have created, communicated, or delivered superior value. Whatever the reason–I had been outsold. It forced me to be better as a sales person. To really understand what the customer was trying to achieve. To really probe, understanding the problems they faced, their hopes and dreams, their attitudes towards the competitor and me. It forced me to be thoughtful about understanding what they valued and to be very creative about the value I created.
It forced me to leave no stone unturned. In my accounts and territory, I constantly looked for opportunities. I analyzed my accounts and territory to figure out where I should be. Whenever I heard of a competitor winning a piece of business in some remote corner of the territory, I got pissed off—not at them, but at myself for missing an opportunity that could have been mine.
Complacency became my enemy. I could never rest on my past successes, but knew there was still business or opportunities I hadn’t yet one. I was driven to find and compete for those.
I learned to never take anything for granted. For example, the people who bought from me were critical. I wanted to continue to stay in contact with them, I wanted to build the relationship, but most of all I wanted to make sure we were delivering on all our commitments, making sure they weren’t just happy, but raving fans. They helped me find new opportunities, and if ever, I competitor came in with a creative offering, I could at least have a chance (hopefully an unfair advantage) to compete, win, and maintain their business.
It also helped keep me grounded–from being arrogant. In many of my customers I’ve had a very large “share” position. Sometimes, we take that large share position for granted. We don’t pay attention to the customer, we don’t realize the competition has now painted targets on our backs. I learned the greater my success, the greater share position I had established, the more humble I had to be–kind of counter intuitive, but without this, I would lose the great share position I had established.
There was a great danger with this mindset–I learned this through the school of hard knocks. Sometimes my behavior was overly aggressive. I would push inappropriately and customers didn’t like it. I learned the subtle difference between confident assertiveness and aggression. It’s walking on a knife’s edge–so I have to continually be present, thinking about what I’m doing, how it is being perceived. Am I creating value and bringing insight, or am I too focused on my own goals and pushing inappropriately.
It made me ultimately accountable. The only thing standing between me and 100% share of account or territory was me. If I got sloppy or complacent, competitors would win. If I lost–it was my fault, I had been outsold. The outcomes I produced were the results of my actions—what I did, what I didn’t do, what I missed. There was no one else to blame!
Do I have 100% share of customer and territory? Absolutely not–I never have, I never will. But that’s not the point. The real issue is the mindset this creates. It keeps me hungry, it keeps me searching, it keeps me innovating. It shapes everything I do.
What share of account and territory are you shooting for? What are you doing to earn it?