The Important Role of Courage in Developing the Hidden Sales Leaders in Your Organisation

There are sales leaders everywhere in your organisation at every level. Often you can’t see them. Many of them are bogged down by their own thinking.

In “It’s Not About the Tights, An Owner’s Manual for Bravery”, business leader Chris Brogan has talked about the need for courage in business to counteract the chronic limiting beliefs and problems that are often stopping people from stepping up to the leadership plate.

All the advice in the world is not going to help them, because they haven’t taken the first step which is to examine their thinking that ‘If only “X” happens then I could do this’ or, ‘No one has given me the chance’ or, ‘I’m just not good enough.

Why Leadership is essential

This kind of thinking can shut down a person’s leadership potential, and as we have discussed previously, leadership is essential for every sales interaction.

These skills are what allow a salesperson to build trust with, connect with, and positively influence a potential customer.

Surprisingly this unwillingness to step up the leadership plate can occur at any level in an organisation. It’s something that we frequently encounter when Rod Solar speaks at practice development weekends.

Leadership brings the courage to change

What’s interesting about this is that instead of the resistance you’d expect in this situation, there is a cascade of knowing looks that pass across the faces of a room full of Ophthalmologists as Rod has them chanting alongside each other “I am the Problem! I am the Problem! And I can change!”

“I am the Problem! I am the Problem! And I can change!”

This is not a problem that is isolated to the lower levels in an organisation. Leading people is hard and requires a shift in perception. Whether you are leading a customer through a sales interaction, or leading your staff through a change process it takes a great deal of courage and emotional connection. It is a level of emotional commitment, that is teachable, but not innate to everyone.

For many, it’s a completely new paradigm.

Do not surrender! Take the leadership!

Because this psychological aspect to personal change is so critical we spend a good chunk of the first part of our sales trainings with clients tackling the underlying objections that teams have to the actual training itself.

This has to happen, if we are ever to expect they will internalise and then actually implement anything. We believe there’s no great deal of value in teaching people how to do complex interactions, if they don’t really have their own thinking sorted out about whether they could actually be a great salesperson, or whether they are the kind of person that could be courageous or could truly connect with a customer.

All of this must come first, before any “factual” training occurs.

This is critical because as Brogan noted this past week while speaking at the Great Work MBA Conference:

“It turns out that robots don’t sell to robots, and humans need to work out of a place of courage and bravery. The opposite of bravery isn’t fear, the opposite of bravery is surrender. It’s settling, giving in. If you are at your job, because you’re terrified you can’t do anything else – that’s not brave.” – Chris Brogan

So how do we get more courage in our organisations in a way that supports the business goals? We wrote last week about the importance of emotional connection with customers, and how this is a rising trend in the field of sales and team training.

Courage grows from mistakes

We need to recognise that having the courage to make this kind of connection is going to be very difficult under time pressure within the stress filled, chaotic workday, unless it is given priority. Space is required to nurture this fledgling new practice in the organisation.

Mistakes will be made.

One of the best parts of trainings for participants is the feeling of confidence they get after performing role-plays. The atmosphere of a role play is one that expects and even encourages mistakes. This kind of low-pressure environment makes it ok to risk, to try new things, and to come back with mixed results. Some of our favourite testimonials go something like this:

“I thought before that I was a nurse, not a salesperson, but now I realise that I can sell by forming real relationships with people. I have more confidence in myself and what I can offer to our customers that makes their time here better for them.”

That’s brilliant to us! Courage takes energy and confidence, and having the leadership team be able to take this energy from training and role-play, and then provide that same level of support and permission to lead at all levels (not just the C-suite).