Sales is more than just a profession, it is the prime mover of all commerce and economies. Selling is an awesome responsibility, and businesses live and die on the success of its salespeople. Such significance demands the cultivation of the qualities and traits associated with leadership.
The ability of salespeople to lead, to coordinate the synergistic power of all the departments involved in making the deal a success, from marketing and finance to product development and more, can make the difference between a mediocre and stellar career, as selling successfully encompasses both harnessing, and directing, the capabilities of many different colleagues and roles within an enterprise.
And, the capacity to lead the customer, to guide potential clients in their hunt to solve the problems that frustrate them or overcome the obstacles that challenge them, should be the core directive of any salesperson.
Embodiment of the lead-to-win creed, whether in running a team or as an essential part of the (sales) force itself, is crucial when striving for victory.
Mind Fuel for the Sales Athlete - Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
Willink and Babin are former Navy SEALs who fought and led some of the most intense urban combat missions the Teams have ever engaged in, including the infamous Battle of Ramadi.
Willink commanded SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser (where Babin served as a platoon leader) and received the Silver and Bronze Stars. Babin earned the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart as well for his efforts. Other notable SEALs who served under Willink include American Sniper Chris Kyle, Kevin Lacz (author of The Last Punisher), and Michael Monsoor.
Willink and Babin learned their lessons the hard way, through the “humbling trials of war,” from failure and loss as well as triumph. Having built up a wealth of knowledge on effective strategy they now train businesses in the application of their hard won principles of leadership, and have written Extreme Ownership as the go to reference for those interested in leading both in and beyond the battlefield.
The book is divided into three parts, here are the headings and a key concept (there are many more) from each segment:
Part 1. “Winning the War Within”
Own it: Blaming circumstances and/or other people for poor results or failure can absolve you of accountability for your actions, and that may appeal to those looking to avoid having to answer for bad decisions, but by abdicating responsibility you also cede control of your destiny to those who are bolder and willing to shoulder the weight. Owning success as well as failure forces you to be mindful of the necessity for constant improvement.
Part 2. “The Laws of Combat”
Keep it simple: Success does not have to be difficult, contrary to popular belief, great victories are not the result of some grand and elaborate plan, complex strategies do not necessarily win the day. Complicated plans often slow things down and create quagmires that are difficult to fight your way out of when things go wrong. To achieve your ambitions, you must be able to express your vision clearly and communicate the mission in the most straightforward of terms, keep the blueprint for victory simple and the actions to be taken explicit and unequivocal.
Part 3. “Sustained Victory”
Discipline Equals Freedom: How is that possible, isn’t discipline rigid? A structured path with no room for maneuver? A regimented, restrained structure doesn’t appear to allow for something as flexible as “freedom,” however it is in the well laid out framework of practiced routine that one finds a firm footing and the confidence to evolve and be creative. Once the basics are ingrained you don’t get bogged down in having to struggle through getting the fundamentals right, as you know the patterns for achievement like the back of your hand, if things go awry then the elemental principles can be tapped like a reflex, it becomes instinctive, freeing up your focus such that you can improvise and come up with new routes to success when necessary.
The grit and resolution of discipline is also a wellspring from which one can tap the strength to carry-on and strive. When challenges arise, most rely on motivating factors to drive them to adapt and overcome, however as Willink is fond of saying, “motivation is fickle,” and when inspiration runs out or is nowhere to be found, it is your discipline that will carry the day and deliver the will-power and control necessary to get the job done.
In Extreme Ownership, Willink and Babin deliver a tome fortified with compelling accounts of blood, sweat and tears, of what it takes to lead, build a high-performance team or fulfill the aspirations many have to simply better their lives. Salespeople in particular would do well to study the methods, actions and management skills of these master warriors, and the traits necessary to achieve and maintain victory in the toughest of situations, as many of these axioms are the same precepts that drive businesses and the executives that power them in the fight for success.
And salespeople are the tip of the spear in that battle.