How Committed Are You?

With apologies to my Muslim, Jewish, Vegetarian, and Vegan friends, I’ll start this post with the old story: “In helping prepare the ham and egg breakfast, who was more involved, the chicken or the pig?” The response is, the chicken was involved, the pig was committed.

I think this is an important distinction. We see too many people involved — being sincere, trying hard, smart, motivated, positive, very busy, but somehow something’s missing.

Commitment, deep emotional commitment, seems to be one of the consistent differences between top performers and everyone else. This quality seems to be more about who we are, not how we do what we do. How else to you explain the differences in performance between people who make the same number of telephone calls everyday, have similar pipelines, have the same training, similar territories, similar IQ’s? Both may be similarly disciplined, process focused, and have great work ethics. But there’s still a difference between the good performer and the consistent top performers.

There is a quality, difficult to describe, but easy to observe. There’s a certain quality in how the emotionally committed sales person engages with the customer, how they make the customer feel, and how the customer reacts when they are challenged or pushed to think differently. They may be presenting the same solutions, but something’s really different. When I talk to customers, they describe it as, “they care!”

We sit with clients, going through loss reviews. The competing solutions were indistinguishable, the prices were roughly the same, maybe our clients’ was even lower, but the lost! We talk to customers, “why did you choose the alternative you did?” Sometimes, they have difficulty expressing it—”we had a better relationship with the competitor, we’ve done business with them, we felt more comfortable with their solution, we felt they understood our requirements better.”

We drill into each of these, what we often find as the real deciding factor is whoever was selling seemed to care more–not about winning, but about the impact on the customer, what they would get out of the solution. With that, there is a substantively different perception of the value the sales person creates through the process. It’s not a deal, it’s not a transaction, it’s a deep felt mission to see the customer be successful.

We see this emotional commitment — genuine caring — in all sorts of situations, not just with the customer, but in how top performers work with their peers and others in their organizations. They are deeply committed to the success of their peers, others, and their company. They emerge as leaders–regardless of title. People gravitate to them, primarily because of this emotional commitment.

We see top sales performers making their numbers, in tough economic situations, where they have clear product deficiencies, where their companies may be going through crises or scandals in the markets. Somehow they persevere–it’s not about how smart and clever they are, it ends up being directly related to the depth of their emotional commitment to being successful. There is a different quality to those who are emotionally committed and those that work hard. This commitment causes them to “figure things out,” to overcome whatever barriers or obstacles they may encounter.

We’ve seen that in our own practice. There are times when a competitor should have won–they may have been smarter (hard to comprehend that — sorry, my ego is at play), they may have had greater experience, they may have been cheaper, but the customer says, “We bought because you guys really cared. This isn’t a project or an order, you care about our success.”

Likewise, I’ve seen it in my own career. There have been a couple of times where I couldn’t make the emotional commitment to excel–whether as an individual contributor or a leader. Perhaps I wasn’t excited about the product line I was responsible for, or the market segment. In every case, where I lacked the emotional commitment, my performance suffered.

There’s one final thing about this deep commitment–and it may be why it’s so noticeable and attractive. You can’t fake it. No amount of polish, persuasive ability, intellect or cleverness can substitute. There’s a genuineness and authenticity that stands out. Look at the individuals who have really stood out in your career. The people that inspired you, the people whose performance you might try to emulate, the people you held up as role models. Most likely, they had the characteristic of deep commitment to success–for their customers, the team, and themselves.

There are lots of things we need to do to be good at our jobs. But to really excel and perform in a noticeably superior manner requires an emotional commitment–to our customers, to our peers, our people, our colleagues, and to our own success.

Circling back to the story at the beginning, are you involved or committed? There’s a profound difference in the outcomes produced.

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