It’s Not About You

The very first sales job I ever had I learned a very valuable lesson: “it’s not about you. It’s about the customer”.

That lesson has stuck with me ever since and illuminated many other areas of my life.
It’s not about me.
It’s about them.

It’s not about my club seat quota or my revenue goal or what’s going on in my life or how I’m feeling today. It’s about what the customer wants and what fits their needs the best. Not mine.

We both know that I have a valuable product. I know what I stand for personally (and what I won’t stand for too) and know I work for a company/team/organization that I believe has a solid foundation of values.

I can tell you about all the features and the widgets and the seat views and how awesome this thing is…but none of it matters unless you make it about the customer and what they want. What REALLY do they want? That’s the real question…and it’s not often what you hear in the first 5-10 minutes of conversation. That leads me to my next point.

The thing about sales is that it’s about people helping people. The moment you step outside that belief and way of being, that’s when it feels weird. Sales is service and great service leads to sales. When you’re not serving, but forcing a product, that’s when you feel “sold” as a customer and when you feel slimy as a sales professional. You can start to see someone pull away, they get tense and start to retreat. Their tone of voice and body language changes. You know what I’m talking about…you’ve probably been on both ends of that spectrum.

People need stuff, sure. And they want some stuff too. They also need someone to care about them and their problem. Sometimes that’s all it takes, someone to listen to their problems and treat them with compassion. Sometimes all you have to do is ask for the sale. Other times you have to lean in a little bit more and really let them FEEL that you have their best interest at heart. Either way, you and your person are as much involved as the actual product.

So let me repeat. It’s not about you. It’s about them. And in many ways, let this be relationship advice too. It’s not about how awesome you are. Someone else just needs to know how much you care, so make it about them. It’s not about you.

Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Well, here goes nothin’! My wife and I just signed up for the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon! We’ve been tossing around the idea of doing something big like this for a while and actually decided we were going to do it back in January while on a snowshoeing adventure in the mountains. This will be my first major running event, other than the two 5k’s I did last spring and summer…those went well, so I figured why not step it up a bit?! I’m looking forward to having this goal that means months of training, hard work, sweat, and dedication. I have already started my training regimen and have already seen some good health benefits like better sleep, increased energy levels, deeper breathing, and a little bit of weight loss. Come June, you won’t recognize me anymore!

So, what does this have to do with the theme of this blog? Well, the trend is that these running/endurance/cross-training, lifestyle events are one of the fastest growing sports properties in the US and probably around the world. Why is this you might ask? Well, let’s examine some of the elements involved:

– Sense of camaraderie with other participants

– Increased buzz in the community

– Personal fulfillment of having accomplished something great

– Goal setting and achievement

– Satisfaction of having overcome several physical and mental obstacles to self-improvement

– Increased societal focus on obesity and the subsequent emphasis on national health and fitness

– Relatively low-cost of participation

Of the items on this list, I think the one factor that sticks out the most to me are the community and camaraderie factors. As part of my graduate school requirements, my cohort was tasked with putting on some type of sport event that would raise money for a local charity and a 5k fun run was what we chose. Since I had never been a part of such an event before, my wife and I signed up for a small local run last spring on the Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA – I had a blast!

Since all you really need to run are some comfortable clothes and a good pair of shoes – that’s it! – I must have trained for about a week or two (I don’t recommend doing this) and just got out there and ran. I made it the whole way without stopping and really believe that if it had not been for the group, I definitely would not have made it that far. Now, I was in decent enough shape to run, but certainly didn’t run on a regular basis like I probably should have done (I know the 5k philosophy doesn’t work for a half marathon, so I’m already in my 3rd week of training now!). So once I finished, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and exhilaration at seeing the other runners cheering people on and then cooling off at the snack and drink table (my second favorite part!). It’s difficult to explain the mind-body connection as it relates to sport and the feeling you get when you cross the finish line, but there is no questioning the good, positive feelings you get when you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.

Wouldn’t you say that is what most fans are seeking in being a part of your stadium or arena? A sense of release, of community, of connection to something that was there before them and will remain long after? These outdoor events give your average citizen a way to be a part of their community in a much different way than what they might be used to, but also one that comes with great health and personal satisfaction benefits and with a low barrier to entry. I’ll post again a few weeks before I get ready to hit the road in Seattle and again after I cross the finish line. Wish me luck – I’ll probably need it!

GO FORTH!