There are some books that I read, perhaps take a few notes, and then move on. There are others that are dog-eared, have my notes in the margin, and become reference guides. Today I am sharing one of those books.
This is one that I will recommend to aspiring leaders everywhere. It’s written by Richard Sheridan, CEO and cofounder of Ann Arbor-based Menlo Innovations. Menlo has won the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility for six straight years and many other awards.
Can anyone learn the skills of business development?
Without a doubt, yes. And that’s different than a lot of people think.
My favorite researcher on expertise is Dr. Anders Ericsson out of Florida State University. He’s widely known as the worldwide exert on expertise. He says, “Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born.”
We’ve trained comprehensive sales skills to over 12,000 professionals. I’ve seen people in all roles, at all starting points from all areas of the world. With that context, I’d add this: “Nearly everyone has a few natural tendencies that will help them with sales. Maybe they’re gregarious, are inquisitive or relentless in pursuing goals. But being great at sales requires dozens of skills—it’s a complex craft worthy of its own study. No one is a ‘born salesperson,’ and everyone can improve. It’s no different than learning a musical instrument or a sport. Some people are naturally disposed to be have a higher upper ceiling, but anyone can improve. And anyone that’s great learned it and earned it.”
Once people have that mindset, they can learn to love selling and become great at it. It just takes knowing the skills needed and an ongoing system to incrementally improve over time. The Snowball System breaks down every skill needed to become great at sales.
“Likability is a soft skill that leads to hard results.” -Mo Bunnell
There is enormous power in giving to others with no expectation of receiving anything in return. Practiced givers understand this and give almost instinctually of time, talent, and treasure. When you witness someone who truly gives from the heart, it is truly something to experience. With that in mind, here are a few quotes to inspire the spirit of giving.
“Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.” –Jim Rohn
Years ago, I recall working on a major project for months. Every individual on the team was expected to do his or her own regular day job, and also work on this massive initiative on the side. At night. On the weekends. In whatever spare time you could find.
I recall the brutal travel required to get it all done. The entire team finished, and it culminated in a big presentation at company headquarters. Visiting executives were positioned in a large conference room, listening to the findings and recommendations of the group.
What that team did was impressive, and the executives in the room were pleased. That was clear because they immediately adopted the suggestions.
But they didn’t tell us. They didn’t say anything.
The team had imagined that they would take us all out for a big celebratory dinner. It didn’t happen. Instead, we simply faded back into the daily activities that consumed us before it all started.
The problem was a senior management failure to recognize the huge contribution of the team. The senior executives had an entitlement mentality. I am sure that, if you asked any one of them, they would say, “Well, that’s what they are paid for!” Or, under significant stress, they simply did not think about it.
Having served as a senior leader for many years myself, I am conscious of this more than ever. In the busyness of the job, in the pressure of the need to perform, it isn’t always easy to remember to pause and say thanks. We are on to the next thing and there are dozens waiting in line.
Ask yourself, how often have I been guilty of the same behavior?
“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” -Gertrude Stein