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Disclaimer: This episode is in no way trying to influence listeners on their religious beliefs.
The Best Sellers in History series is focused on people who were influential in helping others recognize what was best for their future and motivated them to take action. The first episode focused on the impact of Jesus Christ and the second episode was about the persuasiveness of Abraham Lincoln. In this episode, the spotlight is on Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa wasn’t viewed as a sales rep but she shared a vision and a cause with everyone she spoke to. Her ability to influence and lead others gained such momentum that her impact reaches well beyond her lifetime and the borders of India where she served.
The Missionaries of Charity, established by Mother Teresa in 1950 began as a small order of 12 nuns and has now grown to more than 4,500 nuns who are actively working in over 600 missions across 133 countries. Through her efforts, Mother Teresa went on to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. After her death, she was honored as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa set out to serve others and model to others how they could join her.
Let’s take a look at the reasons she was so influential and how we can use the same principles in your B2B sales efforts. In this article, we will discuss 5 main points that made Mother Teresa a historical figure of great impact but first, what were her roots?
Mother Teresa was born on August 26, 1910, in Scopia, the capital city of North Macedonia. She eventually left to serve in Ireland and then went on to India where she spent the majority of her life. There, in 1950, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation. The nuns took the traditional vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience but in addition, they professed to wholeheartedly give their service and strength to the poorest of the poor.
Because of her tireless efforts and huge impact around the world, Mother Teresa’s lifetime was filled with awards and recognition, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. How did she go from such humble beginnings to gaining international recognition and worldwide impact? Five reasons:
Let’s take a look at how these principles can be applied in B2B selling.
A nun is a member of a religious community of women living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They typically live in a convent or monastery under a life-long calling. Nuns can focus their efforts on various causes such as education and healthcare. Unmarried, they focus on a higher calling. Unlike many missionaries who may commit to a finite amount of time in the mission field, most nuns commit their entire lives to service, like Mother Teresa. She dedicated her entire adult life to serving and helping others, usually the poorest of the poor. She was the epitome of selflessness, committing to what she believed in until she died in 1997. Millions of people around the world believe in God but not everyone has the same conviction to serve others the way Mother Teresa did.
Conviction should be important to you as a B2B sales rep because you need to believe in what you do, what you sell, and how you can serve others through your business. If you want to help others by asking them to take action toward change, there has to be a belief in you that will translate to your prospect. Sales reps often jump from one job to another looking for a company that will earn them more money or they go from one industry to another.
If this is you, understand that frequent changes can keep you from the commitment to the product or service you’re selling. For buyers, a sales rep who doesn’t stick with a company can translate as someone not dedicated to sticking to what they represent. Buyers can see a salesperson who isn’t willing to be there long-term.
OB Smith shared that confidence and enthusiasm are the greatest sales producers in any kind of economy. A sales rep without much confidence and conviction in what he’s selling usually doesn’t get many sales.
Sales reps must have conviction and passion. Confidence is contagious and that’s how people perceived Mother Teresa. They saw her confidence and passion and were convinced to work with her and support her cause.
When you keep hopping from company to company, you don’t give yourself time to believe in what you’re selling. #SalesFacts
You can build your confidence by sticking with a company and product you believe in. If you love CRMs than look for a company that makes you feel confident in their mission and what they’re doing. If you believe in the product you’re selling, and you’re a consumer yourself, you’ll be able to share the value of your product even better. Do your research. Learn about how other customers are finding success with these same products, read success stories, and get personally involved with your own clients. Talking to people about their successes will bolster your confidence, conviction, and passion as well. Potential clients will see this in you and through that connection, you’ll make sales with a higher retention rate.
Having conviction is great but you also need to check your commitment level. Mother Teresa took her commitment to another level on September 10, 1946. She was on a train ride when she was struck by inspiration. Mother Teresa decided to leave the protective walls of her convent to help the poorest of the poor and be among the people who needed her the most. It was her new calling and her mission to go into the streets to help the sick and afflicted.
It was during this time that India was gaining its independence to recognize what was best for their future and motivated them to take action.
The tension was high. Despite the chaos, the nuns were protected against all the violence. They had food, funding, and an education system. They were provided with everything they needed. While others prayed for the poor, she left the safety of her gated home to take food to people living on the streets. The convent protects her and people wants her to go back there
Locals looked up to her and people cared for her. The inspiration she had in the train was far more powerful, however, and she wouldn’t be deterred. She knew she needed to leave her position in the convent to serve the poor. Because of this, Mother Teresa sought exclaustration, an option given to members of the Catholic church who are religiously bound that allows time to live outside their religious institute. Mother Teresa had to get permission from the local leaders and hire ecclesiastical leaders from the Vatican to be granted permission to go outside and help the poor. She was given permission to have three years and upon completion, she filed to create her own congregation, the Missionaries of Charity.
Mother Teresa saw a problem, she wanted to fix it, and she took action. She didn’t wait to be asked. She took the initiative and moved forward.
As a B2B sales rep, consider creating content that’s going to be relevant to your ideal customer. Most reps don’t take advantage of providing solutions for their clients. A member of LinkedIn posts every single day. His followers know he will answer their questions or he shares insight to help his potential customers. This gives him a lot of connections and has led to more conversations. His efforts result in natural engagement because his posts make people curious about his services as they come to trust his expertise and level of commitment. It’s a simple concept but it takes a lot of work. What keeps him going is a commitment to do something for his potential customers every day.
Take action and dedicate yourself to your cause. Start by writing thank you notes or sending cards to your clients. Don’t wait for the HR department to do it. Have the initiative to take action. Do it because you care for them as individuals and as human beings. What separates the greatest salesperson from an average salesperson is their dedication and commitment to their job and their clients.
Mother Teresa built long-lasting relationships with people. She could have stayed in the convent but she needed to do something more. Mother Teresa left to live among the poor and her conviction was so strong that it pushed her toward action. She spent months with people from all walks of life after coming out of the convent and built rapport and relationships with them. The people who once hated her eventually became her protectors.
You need to build rapport as a sales rep. Get to know people and your ideal customer. Listen to them when you have a conversation and be genuine. Follow people and businesses, read the news that would be relevant to them, and stay updated.
Taking this extra time and effort will position you to be more caring and help in building genuine rapport. If you want to have a strong influence, find a way to become a part of the community. Find a way to give back.
Mother Teresa was a teacher for 16 years before she left the convent. Because of her experience in teaching, not only did she know how to interact with people, she knew how to ask questions and was able to break down complex ideas in a way that people could understand. When she was outside the safety of the convent, Mother Teresa didn’t have the same resources but she did what she could. She began teaching the local children the alphabet and other beginning education. She knew how to command attention, and as she taught the children, the adults began to also pay attention.
As a sales rep, look for ways you can educate your customers even if you get nothing in return. Whether you’re going to an event or appearing as a guest on a show, look for new insights gained from these activities so more people will benefit from your experience. Offer effective guidance.
Mother Teresa told her leaders she wanted to go outside the compound and live among the poor. At that time, it was unheard of. Some saw it as an act of defiance because it wasn’t the norm but she was determined. She went through all the proper channels and while there were people who were against her goal, there were even more who supported her. They understood she was on a mission to do God’s work.
Abraham Lincoln pushed against the status quo and so did Jesus. They were very passionate about elevating the people who lived during their era to build a better future. It pushed them to go against the current.
As a salesperson, you can do the same thing by veering away from the status quo. While others are just working 9 to 5, making traditional calls and appointments, and watching Netflix during breaks, you can set a higher standard for yourself and your customers.
Consider hiring a sales coach, read more books, and listen to sales podcasts. Educate yourself by going to different events, and take the time to research your product and services so you have a better understanding of their value. Being average will gain average income. Be someone who’s earning significant income by making a difference in people’s lives. If you want to be somebody that’s going to have a strong influence, be someone who acts beyond the ordinary.
As a recap, here are the five reasons why Mother Teresa became so influential:
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Sellers can guide prospective customers through the purchasing journey by holding prescriptive conversations with buyers.
Tom Pisello launched into the topic of prescriptives because he was a product manager who was launching products in the marketplace, with a sales force that had never engaged these particular customers.
In an attempt to help buyers make decisions, he created prescriptive tools that would help customers analyze their existing situation and compare it to the new product.
The B2B purchase decision is more challenging than ever for buyers because there are six to 10 decision makers in every decision. Buyers spend incredible amounts of time on their own gathering, processing, and deconflicting information.
And 94 percent of buyers have participated in a buying cycle that just evaporated. Buyers are frustrated. About 84 percent report that the buyers’ journey is taking longer than they expected.
There’s a big opportunity for sellers as well as a challenge for them to overcome: to help buyers through a journey that has become much tougher and longer than ever before.
The problem is that most sellers show up to meetings talking about themselves: about the company, the product, the services, themselves, and the customers they are working with. Then when the competition shows up for their meeting, they do the same thing.
They all sound exactly the same, so the buying process becomes a shootout.
Instead of talking about the typical things, talk about the challenges the prospect might be having. Then, use that to do some teaching about the challenges you’re seeing at other companies.
Then, pivot to a Socratic approach. Ask probing, diagnosing questions to identify whether your prospects see themselves in the other customers you described. Do a little bit of cooperative discovery.
If you sell office furniture, start by sharing current research about what makes a good office setup. Is open office the way to go? What about standup desks? Instead of pitching yourself or your product, share information about productive office environments.
Talk about the challenges of collaboration and flexible work environments. Mention health and engagement. Talk provocatively about these challenges and how they affect your prospect.
The book The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson tackles this approach well.
This leads naturally into you sharing stories and examples about how you’ve helped other customers with their office furniture needs and about how successful they’ve been as a result. From there you’ll use the Socratic method to dig deep.
Be careful how much of a challenge you present early on because it’s possible that you haven’t earned the right to do that. Start with something provocative, but then pivot away from the research to your questions.
The goal is to move into a collaboration with the customer.
Buyers prefer this process because you’re solving a problem and uncovering problems they didn’t even realize they had. But even for issues they knew they had, you’re putting some numbers to them. You’re clarifying how their employees will be impacted by the purchase of office furniture.
That’s why pivoting from research to personal is important. You’re putting it into a perspective your customer can understand and telling the customer exactly what the problem is costing and how you can help solve it.
You’re helping them to prioritize all of these challenges and becoming a prescriptive consultant to them.
As a seller, it’s your moral obligation to act as a guide to the customer.
Because the buyer’s journey has gotten complicated, you need to provide a map of sorts so the customer knows what to expect. Then be prepared to proactively provide information to the buyer along the way.
If you know the company will ask for a business case, proactively provide it. Don’t wait for the customer to ask.
The buyer’s journey is hard. As you’re proactively providing content, you can also use smart sales enablement systems to track whether the content is being consumed. If they aren’t consuming the information, they may not be as far along in the process as you think they are.
You’ve got to anticipate every step so that you’ll have the visibility to know whether you’re progressing or not.
Bring up your buyer’s objections before they become objections. Realize that your prospects spend two-thirds of their time gathering, processing, and deep conflicting. Streamline that for them when you can.
Marketing plays a vital role in putting together inspirational content.
We must identify the content that will inspire our customers. We’re not talking about content that is only about the products or services. It must be shorter, based on the challenges they are facing.
Then we need to enable sales to use the Socratic questioning.
Look back to your last presentation to determine whether you led with information about the product or service or whether you addressed challenges.
You can connect with Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his blog Evolving Sellers From Pitch to Purpose or grab a copy of his book The Frugalnomics Survival Guide. Keep an eye out for his newest book Evolved Selling™: Optimizing Sales Enablement in the Age of FRUGALNOMICS.
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