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Believing in What You Sell

Create a sense of purpose throughout your company by building a belief system and sticking to it religiously.

This month we'll be taking a look at how two CEOs who sell, Jim Amos, CEO of Mail Boxes Etc., and Peter Bell, CEO and co-founder of StorageNetworks, build a sense of mission with their prospects, customers and key team members. What you're about to read may challenge some of your long-lived convictions about sales and leadership.

Passion and Believing in What You Sell
Jim Amos is big on believing in not only his abilities, but also in the value his company delivers and the abilities of his team. Here's some of what Jim had to share about passion and belief:

"Knowledge-based workers own the knowledge we don't. They may obtain information from our systems, but they individually own the knowledge. People run the systems-the systems don't run the people. Knowledge-based workers must be passionate about their purpose, beliefs and mission; they must have and then apply their discretionary energy with all of that in mind.

"My job is simply to keep the dream in front of them-to keep the Mail Boxes Etc. dream in the forefront of their minds at all times. But it doesn't stop there. The sales process is about constant communication. My job is to be popular and 'well known'-someone who constantly shares the dream with customers, with board members, with employees and with franchise owners.

"Basically, I believe that courage is a work ethic. That means that I must respect my people and allow them to retain their own dignity. I lead not with an anvil, but with benchmarks."

Sharing the dream (or, if you prefer, the vision) is, of course, just as important when interacting with our own sales team members as it is when you're meeting with a CEO from another organization. To share the dream, you must, as Jim notes, embody it wherever you go.and broadcast it to every "customer" you meet, whether that customer is internal or external. Jim is a great role model for that kind of passionate commitment to his company's dream-its mission.

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Jim also told me: "My conviction is that unshakable trust, solid core personal values, integrity and honesty pave the way to a successful relationship in all business and personal endeavors."

I can personally attest that Jim lives up to that high standard. I can also attest that he tries not to let anything build unnecessary obstacles between himself and those he connects with. "When I make a mistake," Jim told me, "I show the humor of it; I laugh at myself and allow others to laugh at me, too. And then I move on. Relationships are built in the trenches; that's where the real tests come. Being truthful in how you react to a situation-that's what matters most."

The Power of Purposeful Belief
To learn how to put the power of purposeful belief to work in accomplishing your own mission, you'll need to do what Jim has done and continues to do on a daily basis. You'll need to get in touch with what gives you that power in the first place: you!

In the end, you are your own best ally-or your most formidable competitor-when it comes to harnessing a sense of mission and purpose. This intangible quality, essential to successful interactions with top "C"-level decision-makers and approvers, either arouses your own opinions, beliefs and convictions.or doesn't!

Let's take a quick look now at what Jim emphasized when I asked him about the mission of sales leadership: opinions, beliefs and convictions. (Note: I'm basing what follows on my discussions with Jim and also on my knowledge of how CEOs tend to operate.)

  • Opinions fall short of having the need for positive knowledge. An opinion is a combination of facts and ideas that can be true, or are likely to be proven true.but that may not be. (Many opinions, of course, share a fuzzy border with those disempowering d's, delusion and denial.) It is possible to have one or more opinions on the same topic. It's also acceptable in the business world of a CEO to change an opinion when it becomes necessary (or politically wise) to do so. There are occasions when CEOs have no opinion whatsoever on an important business topic, but they're quite rare!
  • Beliefs are based on specific past experiences, generalizations or conjecture. Once a belief is obtained, it's generally held to be true and is rarely challenged or changed. Sometimes, we are tempted to defend our beliefs to the bitter end, even when there may be no factual basis for the belief.
  • Convictions are certainties of the mind in either of the two previous categories, that is, fully settled opinions or assured beliefs. Once established, convictions defy alteration. In extreme situations, convictions can cause serious financial, social and/or physical setbacks. On the other hand, convictions can also be responsible for total success in every aspect of business and life.
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Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.

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