In "have a little faith" by Mitch Albom, the protagonist, a 90 year old dying rabbi, laments, "The word commitment has lost its meaning. I'm old enough to remember," he goes on, "when it used to be a positive. A committed person was someone to be admired. He was loyal and steady. Now a commitment is something you avoid. You don't want to tie yourself down." The rabbi was referring, of course, to interpersonal relationships, and marriage in particular.
But shifting focus to the world of business, and qualities that separate average sellers from the great ones, I would suggest that "commitment" and the degree to which it is imbued within by a seller, is an accurate measurement to forecast enduring exceptional results. Yet perhaps in business as well as in interpersonal relationships, commitment has lost its glow as a quality attribute. As the world changes at an ever increasing pace, the "winners" keep forcing growth and change upon themselves so as to stay ahead of the curve. In some cases that process of change may be throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Two salesmen come to visit me. The first shakes my hand and tells me breathlessly of a spectacular offer he's able to make me but he'll need an answer right now. The second comes in and asks me my name. So far, I'm more likely to do business with number two. The second guy begins to tell me what made him call on me and then asks a few questions to test out his original perceptions. Now we're in a conversation and at some point he mentions that his primary purpose in this meeting is to ascertain if, as he originally guessed, he might be able to help me with his product or service. (Number one seller meanwhile is sitting in the reception room shaking his right leg up and down, all the while giving my receptionist updates on how many minutes are left to take advantage of his once in a lifetime offer).
Number two finally finishes his visit with a promise to review our talk back at his office and do some research and ideating to see if there's benefit to us working together. He wants to know whether he can follow up with a call if he has a few questions after he leaves. He wants to get this right if he's going to suggest that we, that's right, we, commit to a partnership.
We do. His servicing of the account is remarkable. My investment with him is safe and rewarding. He's hardworking and creative and I never have any reason to believe that I don't come first with him. This is one committed salesman. And I've never been quite so committed to a vendor as I am to him.
Oh, and salesman number one? He's down the road offering once in a lifetime deals to everyone he meets.
Bob Sherman has 40 years experience managing relationships between media companies and advertisers in old and new media from radio, cable and TV to the Internet, and from sales executive to chief executive and from the biggest media corporations to his own entrepreneurial companies. He is currently in partnership with Pilot Group, LLC. Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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