Since I started writing this blog about a year ago, I’ve talked with over 100 different salespeople and sales managers about their perceptions of sales and their own sales careers. There is a wide variety of attitudes about sales and also about what keeps them motivated. Clearly, money and financial security is a strong motivator, but it is not the only motivator for most of the people I’ve spoken with. In fact, a number of people, myself included, have had times in their careers where they ask themselves, “Is this all there is?” Or, how fulfilled am I in this sales or sales management role?
This column will focus on ways that help me to be motivated and also find fulfillment in our often-challenging careers in sales and sales management.
Giving Back Within Your Industry
Giving back can mean many different things…it could be volunteering within your industry to help at an industry trade organization. Being in advertising sales, I’ve volunteered for well over 20 years to our local organization, ThinkLA, as well as its predecessor, the Advertising Club of Southern California. Helping a trade organization within your industry is a great way to help your industry grow and provide value to those people who are in your industry. I’ve worked on committees to plan educational, networking and social events for the benefit of the Southern California advertising community. Trade groups are always looking for people to help out and it is a great way to get to know others in your local industry. It’s also good for your own business. I’ve worked many times on committees not only with other salespeople but with customers. This is an important ‘side-benefit’ because you are getting to know your customers in an environment other than ‘across the table’ as a vendor. You and your customer are working together to create and execute a successful event. I guarantee you it will change the way that each of you views the other…and in a positive way that will be good for your career.
Another important way that you can ‘give back’ within your industry is mentoring. Whatever level of experience that you have in sales, or sales management, you have more experience and knowledge than someone else…and you could be enormously helpful in growing someone’s career. There is a definite need for mentoring in the sales world because of the complexity and stress that can negatively impact a less experienced salesperson. The sales cycle is real, and every salesperson will go through ‘ups and downs’…and having someone to talk to is invaluable. At ThinkLA, we started a mentorship program to match experienced advertising people with less experienced people and it has been very successful, with over 50 different mentor-mentee pairings. More companies should create their own internal mentorship programs as this would help in building company knowledge and also company morale. If you have an opportunity to be involved with a mentorship program, do it.
Giving Back Overall
There are a lot of people that need help in this country. Whatever side of the political aisle you stand, we all know of and see people every day that are not as fortunate as we are…and they need our help.
I’ve always set aside a certain percentage of income for charitable contributions and it is something that is easy to do and can help make a difference. I like the idea of a ‘percentage’ because your giving can grow as become more successful in your career. Even just starting out, consider donating to the organization or charity of your choice.
While my donations are important, I also find that donating my time to help people is also fulfilling and makes a difference. One activity that I’ve done is work on meal preparation and serving meals at a homeless shelter in downtown Los Angeles. Whatever sized city you may live in, you probably have people who may be homeless or low-income, in need of help. Many shelters are always in need of volunteers to help and I’d encourage you to research those in your local area where you can make an impact. You’re not only helping others, but you will help yourself by contributing your time to those in need.
All of our sales and sales management are important in that we are the people who keep our companies growing with our efforts. It is always satisfying to close a big deal and it’s obviously important for your own personal growth and success to work hard and recognize the importance of what you do. I’ve found that those of my friends who are MOST successful in sales and sales management also have an active volunteer life outside of their direct jobs. I believe that you can me MORE effective in your sales role by volunteering your time to help others.