Are you successful in spite of yourself?

Success.  Achievement.  Getting results.


In sales and in sales leadership, there’s a measure of success: improvement in sales, improvement in margin, increase in average transaction value, reduction in sales cycles…So when targets across these measures are achieved it’s easy for salespeople and their leaders to believe that this is BECAUSE of them and their execution.  But what if it’s actually in spite of them?

In other articles I’ve outlined that to be successful in sales you must stay hungry and humble and that’s because as human beings, our awareness is limited to our individual growth.  Without being hungry, we’ll start to cruise which is certain death for a sales career because it’s a “never pass go” game, and without being humble, you’ll stop growing and you’ll miss the keys that will ensure your ongoing success.

Just because you’re achieving results doesn’t mean it’s because of you.  When the market is good, when there are low levels of competition, and when you have a product that is the best in the market, customers will find their way to you.  They’ll buy from you, may even buy a lot from you and may even buy often from you.  But to extend their reasons for buying to include it being because of you is folly.  It’s not.  It’s actually in spite of you.  When these conditions are present, customers are using you as an ordering mechanism.  You’re the conduit to the solution or the product.  If they didn’t need to obtain that through you, they probably wouldn’t.  Making it easy to work with you isn’t the same as adding real measurable value to the exchange.  It’s being a pleasant order taker.  It’s transactional.

And sales leaders, listen up: just because your team is achieving targets, doesn’t mean you’re a great leader.  Again, they may be achieving results in spite of you, not BECAUSE of you.  More concerningly, you may even start to build up an arrogance that your way of operating is successful and cut yourself off from the opportunities for your team to do even more with what they’ve got.

To ensure this isn’t you (and please don’t let this be you), ask yourself these questions:


ONE: What am I doing to track the impact of my actions on a regular basis?

TWO: What am I consciously implementing to foster a growth mindset?

THREE: How often do I reflect on what is and isn’t working and make adjustments in order to build a continuous learning process into my approach?

FOUR: Do I close off to anything other than what I want to hear or that aligns with my current view of myself?

FIVE: Is it possible that I could be even more successful if I adopted a new approach or opened up to new ways of working?


The minute we think we’ve got the answer (forever), we stop progressing and begin to diminish our potential.  Often, life has a way of humbling us when we don’t force ourselves to build a level of awareness that fosters continuous learning and growth.  And that can be painful.  My suggestion: make this a practice and discipline for yourself. 


Self directed change is empowering.



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