Depending on who you ask, hearing the name Mahatma Gandhi may bring up the titles of leader, spiritual guide, a person of nonviolence, The Father of India, and many more. You may think about the man who defied the British Empire. How did one man make it possible? How was he able to get millions of people to follow his ideals and eventually shape the rest of Western culture?
For this episode, we will look at Mahatma Gandhi and explore the traits that made him an influential person.
Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Pordabander, India. He studied law in London but moved to South Africa in 1893 where he spent 20 years opposing discriminatory legislation against Indians. Gandhi was from a successful family, his father a successful merchant. Gandhi’s experience in working for a law firm in South Africa led him to focus his efforts on helping those who are disenfranchised by society.
One particular day, Gandhi was riding on a train in first-class. Being a man of means, he’d the money to pay for the ticket. However, another passenger in the first-class didn’t like that an Indian was riding there as well. The conductor tried to encourage Gandhi to move to the lower class but he had paid for the ticket and had broken no laws. He defended himself and was thrown off the train.
Gandhi went back to India and supported the home rule movement, where Indians could rule themselves, independent from the British Empire. The British had come into India and raked the country’s resources for 200 years. The British originally talked about how they were going to help the people and the economy and would create jobs, but it didn’t happen in India’s favor. Most of the money went back to England and English people started to look down on the poorer Indian people. The English people were able to take the whole of India because India wasn’t united.
The largest rebellion against the British took place in 1857 and it lasted for 18 months. The British called it the Indian Mutiny and it started to spread even though the British downplayed the rebellion and by calling it a mutiny. Both sides had a difficult time but the British eventually won. Many of the Indians were conditioned to think they couldn’t fight against the British despite their huge number. Instead of fighting for their own battle, the Indian army became the backbone of the British empire.
The British Viceroy, Lord Curzon said that as long as they ruled India, they would be the greatest power in the world. The Indians, however, wanted their freedom and their own democracy.
Imagine the same situation in the B2B world. Suppose a new client has a huge problem? They have tried to fix it in the past but they weren’t able to win against it. As a result, they started to just live with the problem. Within the company, there could be groups of people who have great ideas on how to solve the problem but there’s nobody who is unifying them. Every department keeps doing the best they can and everyone just lives with the pain. They need a powerful leader who can recognize there’s a problem, bring all the groups together, and create a solution as a team.
Mahatma Gandhi showed that kind of leadership.
Unlike other politicians and wealthy people, Mahatma Gandhi spent time with the masses. This was very similar to what Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, and the other personalities in this history series did. They wanted to make a lasting impression so they spent most of their time with the masses. If you want to make a massive impact, you need to go to the people.
The same is true for Mahatma Gandhi. He went among the people and built relationships with them. He tried to understand what was going on in their everyday lives. This allowed him to see the challenges they were facing as the oppressed people of society. He was able to articulate their problems and speak for the people. He became the unifying voice.
Much like with Mahatma Gandhi, sales reps need to understand their clients’ pain and see where they’re coming from. You shouldn’t just be a salesperson who comes in trying to get the money and resources. You are a person who should be able to identify with the pain of your clients. Being able to relate to people at that level will earn you their trust. People will respect you and have confidence in you. They don’t give you money for anything. They give you money because they believe you can solve their problems. Build rapport and talk to your customers regularly.
How can you do that?
As a sales rep, it is important to build rapport, understand where they’re coming from, learn about their challenges, and be involved with their lives.
The second thing that Gandhi did was that he gave people a solution. He wasn’t focused on raising an army of who would fight the enemy on the battlefield. He didn’t have an army but he was able to suppress and bring down a British Empire without having to set foot on the battlefield. Gandhi gave them an unconventional solution to a conventional problem. If he had tried to fight the British in a physical battle, he would have faced an uphill battle.
The British didn’t know that. As a salesperson, adopt a mindset different from other salespeople in your field. Instead of trying to fight a losing battle, look for another strategy. Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.
For instance, Gandhi boycotted the British mill and textile industry and that hurt the British economically. Because Gandhi had built a good relationship with the people, they listened to Gandhi.
Gandhi presented an unconventional solution. One of Gandhi’s significant protests wat the Salt March. The salt tax affected mostly poor people. Even though India had salt as a resource, they weren’t able to use it and instead, had to buy salt from England. Seeing the problem, Gandhi started a protest that gained momentum as it went on.
As a B2B sales rep, think of the ways you can solve your clients’ problems and look at it from an unconventional standpoint. Do some research and look for unique ways to solve their problems. Always bring something to the table your competitors haven’t done before or don’t already do. Be a new resource, think outside the box, and paint outside the lines.
If there is a bid and you’re up against competitors who are trying to solve the same exact problem, try to look at it differently so you can provide a different and better solution. Even head to head with all things remaining constant, you can still find ways to stand out.
The third trait of Gandi is the ability to translate peoples’ problems into words and feelings. He was able to paint a vision for them of what life would be like in an independent India.
Say a company offers sales training. Instead of saying what the training is all about, we paint a picture of what the company and profits can look like after the training. Sales reps need to dig deeper to be able to come up with specific solutions. If you want to become the top seller of your organization then you have to figure out your clients’ problems and simplify the way you present your solutions.
Mahatma Gandhi was eventually assassinated and at his burial, over 1 million people came to mourn. He was known as the person who inspired nonviolent solutions. People followed Mahatma Gandhi because he helped with a sincere heart and a mind for the people. His protests weren’t just political stunts. He loved his people, he loved his faith, and he loved his country.
As a recap, Mahatma Gandhi showed three traits:
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When Mike Simmons made the move from individual contributor to leader, he tried to implement his own approach to the sales process. He eventually realized that his scripts and his processes wouldn’t work for everyone on the team. He discovered that each person needs a unique set of guiding principles.
On today’s episode of Sales From The Street, Mike shares the importance of guiding principles in the sales process, and how you can establish your own set of guiding principles.
Very often in sales, people copy the things they see working for other people. In my own case, I assumed that I should copy the people around me because they were finding success.
Taken to an extreme, Mike recalls seeing the same email used by multiple people, complete with the same typos as the original.
It took time for me to realize that I needed my own unique seller persona in order to connect with my customers, which is just as valuable as a buyer persona.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t learn from each other; of course we should collaborate and combine our efforts.
Instead of simply copying others’ work, adapt their work in a way that is unique to you.
Mike shared a story about his experience selling fitness equipment on a day when a customer entered the store in raggedy sweatpants.
He joked with his coworker about whether the guy would actually buy anything.
His coworker later said he almost didn’t get the sale because the customer heard Mike’s sarcastic comment and was put off by it. Mike learned on that day not to judge a book by its cover.
In fact, because he does his best work in board shorts and flip flops, he has learned not to let preconceived ideas limit his success.
Mike became aware of guiding principles when he discovered Ray Dalio’s book Principles: Life and Work.
Our own patterns and tendencies evolve over time, and they are specific to our personality and outlook.
If, for example, you don’t really care much about relationships, it’s hard to be a solution-oriented sales rep who is focused on relationships.
Connect with Mike to learn more about Catalyst Sale. Launched to help sales leaders connect the right people at the right time, Catalyst Sale seeks to help sales executives engage all their available tools to cut through the noise of a crowded sales arena.
Find Mike on Twitter, where he points out that he doesn’t schedule Tweets; when you see him Tweet, he’s doing it live and in-person. You can also find him on LinkedIn, and as well as on the Catalyst Sale Podcast.
When you reach out, mention The Sales Evangelist Podcast so he’ll know the context of the connection.
He also invites you to call him at (480) 772-7448. Before you call, though, text him to let him know you heard him on the podcast and he’ll return your call.
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