My good friend, Buck McGugan, and I were having a conversation about sales performance. We were talking about what separates consistent high performers from everyone else.

There were the usual competencies, we tend to think about–curiosity, business acumen, comfort with talking with money, resilience, mindset, and so forth. But then we started talking about “Caring.”

All of a sudden, at the core of sales performance is this thing called caring. We started talking about what this really means, discovering it has many dimensions:

  1. Do you care about your customer? For too many sales people, our “caring” for the customer is limited to how much revenue can we produce. But in our conversation caring was more deep. Do you care for them as people/individuals? Do you understand their goals, organizationally/individually, and are you driven to help them achieve their goals? Do you care enough to be politely relentless, helping them identify opportunities they may not be aware of?
  2. Do you care about your peers and their success? Thankfully, the day of the lone wolf is long past. None of us exist in a world where we don’t depend on others for our success, as they depend on us for theirs. Do you care about your peers and others in your company, both as human beings and for their role? Do you recognize without them, you couldn’t be successful? Do you proactively help them, coach them where you can? Are you as happy for their successes as you are about your own?
  3. Do you care about your manager and the management team? Just as with your peers, without them we can’t be successful. Their jobs are different than ours, do you understand their role and help them succeed?
  4. As the complement to (3) if you are a manager do you care about your people? Are you interested in their success? If they aren’t successful, you never can be? Are you interested in their development and growth as professionals/people? Are you demonstrating your caring by investing in them–coaching, developing, retaining them? Too often, we think of people as commodities we can swap in and out. We don’t realize the tremendous impact and real business cost of this practice, it is in the millions for each person.
  5. As an extension of (3) and (4), do you care about your company? And not just as a source of a pay check, but do you care about it’s success? Do you care enough to identify things the company may be doing that adversely impact it’s success–at least with customers. You are probably the first person that will see how customers react to their experience with your company. Do you care enough about your company to try to correct that?
  6. Do you care about your community? Again, we don’t live in isolation, we live in a number of communities, both real and virtual. Do you care about the members of the community and how you can help them with their goals? Almost certainly, if your community isn’t achieving it’s goals, it has an adverse impact on you.
  7. Do you care about yourself? Are you obsessively committed to learning, improving, growing? Do you have a growth mindset?

“Caring,” isn’t some sort of soft, “feel good” attribute. Caring is ruthlessly pragmatic and growth focused (as well as the right thing to doe). Without caring, we cannot be successful as individuals. We will move from paycheck to paycheck, but fall far short of what we could achieve.

As managers, what are you doing to assess people’s “caring” in your recruiting process? What are you doing to build and develop their capacity to care? What are you doing to set a personal example of caring?

Somehow, without caring, it all becomes kind of pointless.