Enthusiasm; Aside from Circumstances

This morning I will be presenting to a sales team in DC on the topic of moving up (Accessing Decision Makers)…if you read the recent Harvard Business Review article I posted last week, you know that calling on influencers is largely a waste of time in the new economy of selling.  Not that you want to disregard IT relationships, but IT is a maintenance organization, not a strategy group, and getting new projects funded depends on the needs of change agents in the organization.

While reviewing my material this morning I realized – I don’t really mention character in the slides I’ve put together.  Did you know that most people are hired for their skills, but fired for character issues?  Don’t gloss over this statement too quickly because, in my opinion, this has a lot to do with the success you have in trying to move up to more strategic meetings with those making the financial decisions.  In my book, From Vendor to Adviser, I cover several essential character traits, that when not present, lead to all kinds of attitudes and behaviors unbecoming to the effective adviser.  I recommend you study these if you are looking to grow your business.  They apply to customer service, management, selling, and certainly moving up in the sales process.  Enthusiasm is one of them, and one that is lacking as I talk with so many sales people.

What is Enthusiasm?

You might think I am talking about drumming up some excitement, or pasting a smile to cover up an angry, disgruntled feeling you have from that last contract you lost.  The other misconception is that enthusiasm requires a certain set of circumstances…nothing could be further from true.

Enthusiasm is a condition of the soul.  It comes from a clear sense of personal mission.  Simon Sinek talks about starting with the WHY.  This WHY is the thing that drives this person, and because they love their WHY, they are enthusiastic.  The problem is, so many people have lost their WHY – they have no purpose.  You need this to succeed.

Enthusiasm is the opposite of apathy.  So if your work experience is unfulfilling and has become “just a J.O.B.” you may find you’ve lost your passion.  This might be considered a circumstance, but it’s not, it’s state of mind.  Perhaps you’ve taken your eyes off of serving the customer, and so work has become, well…work.  It’s not fun any more.  You might have a company that doesn’t really care about serving the customer, and so they treat you like a contractor.  This is enough to kill anyone’s enthusiasm.  My advice here is to move on.  There may be a shortage of jobs out there, but not in the high-tech sales world.  Every one of my clients is looking for great sales people.  But don’t call me for a job lead until you’ve renewed your vision and recaptured your enthusiasm.  The apathetic sales person is bound to fail.

Signs of Apathy

People know enthusiasm when they see it. You can’t fake good character, and since enthusiasm is a character trait, it must be developed.  If you are faking it, chances are you come over as overbearing or aggressive in your sales approach.  You may also come over as nervous or even fanatical in your presentations.  Without true enthusiasm, the light in your eyes seems dim, and you tend to rely on sales tactics more than a sincere passion to help.  The executive who notices this, will likely pass on anything you have to offer.

True Enthusiasm Doesn’t Care

When you love what you do and your passion is strong, you know your offering is good.  There is a confidence there that cuts through the bureaucracy of the traditional business.  Nervousness goes away because you know you have something worth gold and you love it.  When a client says, “No”, you move on, knowing there are bigger opportunities around the corner.  When people buy what you have to sell, your enthusiasm grows because you know your products are services are going to help that person acheive their goals, and you personally get satisfaction out of helping them achieve their goals.  Money is simply a reward for helping them get where they need to go.

Building Enthusiasm

You build enthusiasm.  No one else can do it for you – it’s all your responsibility.  You can choose to dwell on the problems, or you can fix them and move on to better things.  Enthusiasm requires a renewal of vision and passion.  But it also requires that you fix those things that weigh you down.  Bitterness, discontent, unreconciled relationships,…these all cause stress.  And where there is stress, enthusiasm and passion get crushed.  When I speak to a group, people often come up and say, “You love what you do, I can tell…you’re passionate about your topic…”  It’s true, I do love what I do.  But my enthusiasm requires that I keep short accounts, focus on the areas I am passionate about, and keep my client’s needs  at the center of my purpose.  As soon as I started focusing on money, tactics, and sales manipulation, my enthusiasm dies.

First Things First

So today I’ll be presenting on accessing buyers – decision makers.  But without character (and in this case, enthusiasm), the strategies I share are all meaningless.

© 2012, David Stelzl


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