In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, I wrote about possessing the right mindset, skill sets, and tool kits, but I didn’t emphasize how important is to get these things in the right order.
The mindset comes first. Before anything else, you must have the right beliefs and attitudes, as well as all of the behaviors that result from possessing them. This is about who you are at your core. If you want to be a person of influence, things like character and integrity matter a great deal. You have to be the kind of person with whom other people want to do business.
You bolt the skills on top of this foundation. What makes the skills work is the person who possesses them. It means nothing to know how to gain commitments if you are not the kind of person that people trust with their business. The activation of skills like presenting, negotiating, and managing change are only as valuable as the person who possess them. Skills in the hands of someone who lacks the character traits to make them work is an exercise in futility.
With the mindset and the skill sets in good order, tools can be a force multiplier. The technology can help people produce better results, and in the right hands, it does. What good is a CRM in the hands of someone who lacks the discipline to keep records of their most important possession, namely their relationship. How does email help the person who chooses to hide behind it because they seek to avoid the conflict that is part of doing business? How do the social tools help someone who doesn’t have the business acumen—or the will—to become a peer, someone their clients look to for advice?
Right now, because we are in the very early phases of a technological transformation to match the transformation that led us into the Industrial Age, there is propensity for companies to weight their bias towards improving sales by leveraging technologies. And there are many technologies that are worth considering. But to put technology first in the order in which you need to make improvements when it comes to generating business results is to get things exactly backwards.
The Air Force Colonel, John Boyd, used to admonish the United States Military with this idea: “People. Ideas. Technology. In that order.” Boyd was right then, and he is right now.