What Happens When Salespeople Struggle with the Big Questions?

By Ben Schemper

It’s no secret top salespeople are driven by the need to perform at high levels. They have a target number to hit, and their job is to achieve it. Working to overcome challenges keeps them excited and motivated to learn new skills, strategies, and tactics.

Sales leaders also understand high achievers are celebrated when they hit their goals. They win trips and trophies, get recognition from peers, and are paid handsomely. Then they set off to achieve a new goal. Wash, rinse, repeat. Over and over…until they wake up one day and feel like something is missing.

Finding Meaning beyond Material Achievements

At a certain point, many high-achieving sales professionals ask themselves some existential questions.

  • “Is this all there is?”
  • “Beyond the money, what’s the purpose of what I do every day?”
  • “Why do I feel empty inside if everyone around me is celebrating my success?”
  • “Do my achievements matter?”

If you have ever heard salespeople struggle with those thoughts (or struggled with them yourself), you’re not alone. If left unaddressed, these questions can cause top performers and sales leaders to stop achieving, question their roles, or even change careers in the search for meaning.

The problem is, we tend to look for the answers outside of ourselves, when the true answers to those questions lie within. After we become skilled in our craft and accumulate accolades, what we are truly looking for is the connection between our work and its greater impact.

This is the missing ingredient for most professionals. They don’t see how their work makes a meaningful impact. As sales leaders, we need to pay attention not just to sales targets, but also to the essential question of meaning.

The number still matters, and the goals are still important, but sales leaders and sales professionals must understand a deeper reason we are going after those targets. As Simon Sinek has said, we must start with the question of why.

Consider Big Possibilities

Are you creating a culture in your organization that starts with why? What would it look like to cultivate an environment that both allows salespeople to hit their numbers and allow them to find inner meaning? What would be possible if everyone in your organization followed an inspiring vision that compelled them forward each day to develop themselves as individuals as they helped the company achieve its goals?

Take time today to consider these questions for yourself and for your organization. Take time to dream and imagine what could be possible. As the beloved Dr. Seuss told us, “Sometimes the questions are complicated, but the answers are simple.”  

Ben Schemper is cofounder of Abundant. Hear him present “Leading Is the New Selling” at the Sales 3.0 Conference in San Francisco on April 1-2.

About Lisa

Editorial Director at SellingPower.com.
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