Many people say that one of their goals in life is to leave the world a better place than it was when they entered it. The thought of improving the world may show lofty ambition – but also hints at arrogance. Good salespeople don't aim to improve the world; instead, they work at improving themselves. If self-improvement is the first step to improving society, what would be the next logical step?
We bring to the business of selling more than just the knowledge of the product, people skills, and the motivation to win. We also bring to our customers our own set of personal and ethical values, values that communicate who we are and what we stand for. Good salespeople know that real champions are not measured by how much money they can collect but by how much meaning they can contribute. Real champions know that laughing all the way to the bank loses its appeal when you realize that, on a gloomy day, a fat checkbook won't hug you back.
Within the last decade, value-added selling and ROI selling became a key ingredient in generating more business. Given the increased complexity of our changing world, I believe that the next wave of progress will be value-added meaning. Sure, business will always demand that we produce profit, yet our minds always demand that we find meaning. Sensible business leaders help their sales teams understand the basic human need for creating both.
For example, the White Dog Café, a Philly farm-to-table restaurant formerly owned by Judy Wicks, used to hold Table Talk programs, during which interesting speakers shared ideas with the patrons. Anita Roddick, the late founder and CEO of The Body Shop, was invited to speak to a wall-to-wall Table Talk audience. Her talk was called, "The Socially Responsible Business: Where Profits Meet Principles."
The idea of “food served with thought” caught on quickly, and Wicks won the Business Enterprise Trust Award for building a greater sense of community. She created value-added meaning for her customers, and business boomed.
Technology giant Google routinely invites authors, musicians, innovators, and speakers to their offices for talks, interviews, and conversations designed to explore the zeitgeist of the day. Examples include Stephen Colbert, who discussed his new book, America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t (October, 2012).
While value-added selling creates dollars that we can take to the bank, value-added meaning creates a different currency, one we might call "feel-good dollars." While it takes a long time to become a millionaire in real dollars, we all can become overnight millionaires by earning "feel-good dollars." How? By adding meaning to our customers' experiences.
Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff has found a way to sell software in the Cloud while adding meaning to communities around the world. He does good because it feels good. He said in a speech he delivered recently, “Philanthropy is the best drug I ever took.” His Salesforce.com Foundation has contributed more than $40 million in grants and more than 440,000 volunteer hours.
You don’t have to be a billionaire like Benioff to feel good. We can increase our feel-good worth by how much meaning we contribute. Good salespeople ask themselves, “What can I do today that will help my customers feel good about doing business with me and my company? How can I bring more meaning to my customers and community at large? How can I add value to the profession of selling?”
Add to your treasure chest of values by getting better at doing good because it feels good when you do it. Become a feel-good millionaire, starting today.