SPIF Tip #2: Your Salespeople Shouldn't Want to Prove How Good They Are

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m415-3f11ee5b-9c7e-40ab-9248-13231af63172-v2John Cousineau

is founder of He has challenged a heartfelt belief of sales organizations.

I think he is right:

Companies tend to hire salespeople who want to prove how good they are.

I think instead they should hire people who want to improve how good they are.

John Cousineau,

Founder of Amacus

The first time he said that, it took a minute to sink in.

Sales organizations look for people who are really good. They expect salespeople to overcome adversity. A "prove how good you are" attitude sounds good, at first.

They don't look for humble improvers. Perhaps that is why there is so little improvement in sales organizations (as a whole).

Of course, salespeople should try hard, use their intelligence, charm, or whatever else it takes to do their job well.

 The problem is, unless salespeople are thoughtful about their work, they can end up getting in a big rut. The sales world is renown for its "never quit" attitude. After all, isn't every "no" just another stepping stone toward a "yes"?
Well, that might be true. On the other hand, even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally. And, true professionalism in sales isn't about being a squirrel or being blind. Or being a lemming.
True professionalism is about learning. And to learn, you have to be thoughtful. If you are a salesperson who wants to improve how good you are, you’re likely to
  • Admit when you are wrong.
  • Analyze the causes of your adversity.
  • Accept coaching, and expect better behaviors from yourself.
  • Help other people learn what you’ve discovered.

Those behaviors are humble. They are not the behaviors we expect of people who are out prove how good they are.

As Peter Drucker said:

[A] discipline’s basic assumptions about reality determine what it focuses on.

Peter Drucker, Management Challenges for the 12st Century, pg3

True to Drucker’s insight, assumptions determine what you focus on. In fact, they do even more. They determine what you see.

And this set of assumptions doesn’t just affect what salespeople see. It affects what managers see too. We’ll cover that in the next SPIF Tip.

What do you think this assumption prevents people from seeing?


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