Do You Have a Purpose? Or Do You Just Sell Stuff?

By Lisa Earle McLeod

When you’re under pressure to generate revenue, it’s tempting to focus exclusively on the numbers. But if you make revenue your sole objective, you’ve doomed yourself and your team to mediocre results.

Organizations that look beyond just making money and have Noble Sales Purpose (NSP) wind up making more money than those who focus on the numbers alone.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Here are five reasons NSP works.

1) A Noble Sales Purpose defines your organization.

Your NSP is how you make a difference. You don’t have to create world peace. Your purpose can be about making your customers more successful or changing your industry.

One of our clients sells project-management software for building construction. This company’s software helps buildings go up faster, safer, and more economically. Its Noble Sales Purpose is “We help people build a better world.” The company’s team members don’t just say it; they’re passionate about it. They drive by buildings, pointing them out to their kids and saying, “Look. We’re part of that.”

This client’s sales force is on fire because it improves how buildings “come out of the ground.” NSP is why its sales are up by 20 percent.

2) Purpose-driven salespeople outsell product-driven salespeople.

In a double-blind study my firm conducted with a major biotech company, the unifying characteristic of the top performers was a sense of larger purpose. The salespeople who were product or incentive focused were average at best.

The salespeople who sold with noble purpose – who truly wanted to make a difference to their customers – drove more revenue than those who were focused primarily on sales goals and money.

3) NSP provides leadership direction.

Three years ago, I was hired by a national IT service provider. If you asked its employees what they did, they would say, “We sell IT services to small businesses.”

Then we made a critical shift. Now the company’s CEO says, “Our Noble Sales Purpose is to help small businesses be more successful.” The NSP was pulled to the front and center of everything the company does, including sales training, marketing, and the way senior leadership communicates with the field.

The result: While its competitors are floundering, my client’s revenue grew by 35 percent. Now ask people in this organization what they do, and they’ll tell you. “We help small businesses be more successful, and we’re damn good at it!”

4) NSP eliminates bad sales behavior.

Look no further than the auto industry to see what happens when salespeople lack Noble Sales Purpose. The auto industry has genius engineers. It invests heavily in consumer research to create the perfect car for us. Compelling marketing demonstrates how the car will improve your life.

Yet what happens when you go to the dealership? The salesperson doesn’t ask a single question about your life. All he or she wants to know is how much a month you can pay and if you have good credit. Thousands of hours and millions of dollars in research, and it all falls apart on the showroom floor.

The salesperson doesn’t care about you. He or she cares only about closing the deal, and that’s because closing the deal is the only thing the dealership’s sales manager has told salespeople to care about.

Internal conversations become external conversations. If your internal conversations are about only money and make no mention of a larger purpose, then that’s exactly what your salespeople will discuss with customers.

If you treat your customers like a number, they’ll return the favor.

5) NSP sustains motivation.

I work with sales organizations all over the world, and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that working for a higher purpose ignites people’s passion in a way that spreadsheets never will.

Because as much as salespeople want to make money, they also want to make a difference.

Lisa Earle McLeod is the author of Selling with Noble Purpose.