Prior to advising sales leaders with Gartner, I have had the privilege of working over 25 years in sales leadership roles across many organizations and industries. And whether I was a new Sales Leader or in veteran CSO/CRO/CCO roles, I found that when Sellers internalize – that is, establish habits – these three fundamentals, they are more likely to experience success and achieve their goals.
- Knowledge – The “What/Why” are those things we learn about our company history, the reasons it exists and the mission to go to market with purpose.
- Skills – The “How” are the abilities we bring to a role and master through our experience.
- Desire – The “Want” comes from the emotional tug between pleasure-seeking and pain-avoidance (really the same, as avoiding pain makes us feel good).
When Sellers internalize these fundamentals, it creates an intersection of the right Knowledge, right Skills, and the right Desire to form Habits.
Why is the internalization of these fundamentals important?
Allow me to use an example of “a guy I know” who accepted his first international Sales Leadership role. In France, he was provided a corporate apartment in Paris, a company car (Note: manual transmission which he had never driven) and a reserved parking space at the Versailles office. He aspired to acclimate quickly to the culture and look confident to his new co-workers, so he laid out a plan to master his new daily commute by applying each fundamental:
- Knowledge: Learn French driving rules and the best routes to drive back/forth.
- Skills: Operate a stick shift and safely navigate both city and suburban roads.
- Desire: Attain a good work/life balance (pleasure-seeking) by minimizing his commute time (pain-avoidance).
Now, between the apartment and office lay “L’Étoile” (the Star), the infamous roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe with its inverse right-of-way. Meaning, you enter the roundabout at full speed, then you must immediately yield to cars entering from TWELVE feeder lanes, all while masterfully braking, shifting, accelerating, and lane-changing during morning and evening rush hours. What could possibly go wrong by neglecting to internalize even a single fundamental?
- Knowledge + Skill, but no Desire? He mastered the rules and his shifting, but he never quite articulated his dream of conquering L’Étoile and coasting into his parking spot, blaring “Thunderstruck”. Instead, he opted for a 90-minute train/bus/walking commute each way. Hello 14-hour day and his empty reserved parking space for all to see!
- Skill + Desire, but no Knowledge? He mastered the shifting skills required to speed through L’Étoile, and he relished blaring playing “Thunderstruck” as he slid into his parking spot. But all those failures to yield in L’Étoile? Hello 1500 euro fine along with the shame of the violation being mailed to the office!
- Desire + Knowledge, but no Skill? “Thunderstruck” was teed up for his big entrance, and he memorized L’Étoile’s rules. Unfortunately, he stalled the company car 11 times in L’Étoile, finally rear-ending a vehicle in front of him. Yes, that is his Executive Assistant calling asking “why aren’t you here yet?”
So… much like my good friend learned the hard way, we all (sellers and leaders included) really need to master all three fundamentals to achieve our goals. If we miss internalizing any of these, the right habits will not form, and our goals will become unrealistic or unreachable.
In a future Blog, we will talk about how internalization of these fundamentals connects directly to our responsibilities as Sales Leaders.