On the day before our hiking group headed off to summit Kilimanjaro, we were sat down with our lead guide, Ruta. What he said that day was the most graceful advice I'd ever been given. It was like he'd compressed all the motivational advice in the world into one luminous diamond. He told us that our probability of getting to the summit was based on a simple formula = 10% aptitude + 90% attitude. That advice will always haunt me (in the best possible way).
We are so often concerned with our skill level and our ability to do the things we dream of. But what about learning? What about our attitude toward difficulty and triumph? Ruta insisted that we learn to enjoy the difficulties — that they were an inevitable part of the experience.
Another bolt of brilliance.
Why do we fight against difficulty when it's such a big part of life? Why do we rail against challenges when we ought to find ways through them? In a world where there's lots of things we can't control, we've been given an incredible tool that repaints our life with little effort. It's something that allows us to surrender absolute control in favor of learning to roll with the punches.
Our attitude is possibly the most important thing we have control over (most of the time). The pessimist often falters at small inconveniences, assuming the worst and receiving it in return through their actions. The optimist — or, at the very least, a pragmatist with a sense of humor — sees opportunities in their challenges. They can see a silver lining and grab hold of it.
Ruta may have been trying to help us climb a mountain with that advice, but I found it to be invaluable as a way to live.
What is your attitude like when you are serving your clients? Are you more focused on your quotas for the quarter or on authentically serving your clients? In your personal relationships, are you more focused on the value for yourself or providing value to others? Are you attached to outcomes or journeys when it comes to others?
We hear a lot about added value these days but it’s really not a new concept. The origin of the word ‘sell’ is Old English, German and Nordic. In the earliest permutations of the word, it meant ‘give’. I love looking at it that way because I’ve never really considered myself very good at sales at all but I’ve always been great at giving. Naturally, it helped me to grow my business in ways I’d never imagined.
Solving Over Selling
Think of the product or service that you offer. Your prospects or clients have a problem. Problems require solutions. The gap between the two is where you want to put yourself. You want to become a conduit that takes someone from problem to solution.
The best way to grow to the top of your game whether it’s sales or leadership or anything really, is to develop an attitude of service. You add value in everything you do by bringing yourself in totality to the situation. When you immerse yourself fully in problem-solving, your clients can't help but see you as valuable.
When you focus on solving their problems, they see you as selfless and totally committed, which is what makes for great service. Clients sense when you’re in it for them. Be in it for them and I promise that will change your world.
Sometimes we get attached to controlling the outcome instead of easing into it. I get it – we all have quotas and goals and quarterly deadlines. But what about bolstering those quotas? What about building a dedicated base of clientele that always provides you with business based on the fact that they know you're reliable?
Consider the implications of selling to one person well enough and solving someone elses problem. Consider someone who simply sells you a solution and someone who walks you through it?
Service is everything.
"How do I know your product is the right one for me?"
When someone asks that question, it's go-time. Elevator pitch madness. The ultimate opportunity to destroy objections and plant the seed of your excellence. Okay, here we go – this is what I’ve been practicing for in front of the mirror. Then I'll go into the benefits and features and that's a wrap.
If you’ve ever been in that situation, you have probably seen a pattern. People don't often respond well to canned speech. You're not a commercial. You're a human that's standing in front of them. If you sound like a commercial, it's going to put people off. If the "rehearsed speech" is part of your arsenal and you have trouble converting, here's a tip for you: focus on service.
Next time they ask a question like that say “I'm not sure yet... what do you think would help you solve your problem?” Then just be quiet – stop talking and listen. If you’re quiet long enough, they will tell you exactly how you can serve them and all you have to do is recite back to them everything they just said they needed – provided that authentically you can fill that need.
Life is a series of shifting attitudes. Our world is prismatic: we see it tinted by the shades of our sorrows, our joys, and our contentment. If you know how to reframe the things you do — how to focus on your ability to learn instead of your inherent ability — life opens up for you. For sales, it's focusing on service. For personal goals, it's learning to love the process. For all of life, it's learning that difficulties are just opportunities in disguise.