Success in sales does not go to the one who has the lowest price.
Nor does success in sales go to the one who has the best customers.
And, success in sales does not go the one who has the most intelligence.
Who really achieves success in sales? The people who practice integrity with every person with whom they come in contact. There is no substitute – no alternative – to consistent integrity.
Eleven years ago, I left my corporate career working in sales management for a Fortune 100 company. I began traveling the globe, working with salespeople across more industries than I can even begin to count. Over the years, I’ve personally met with thousands of salespeople, each with their own level of success and failures. I also have met with hundreds of sales managers, VPs of Sales, CEOs and others from the “C-Suite.” All those interactions and opportunities to learn about so many industries has revealed to me more than ever what it takes to remain at the top.
People who are at the top year in and year out are those who walk and breathe integrity in everything they do. This is true in good economic periods and bad economic periods, through global upheavals and company chaos. The consistent factor to success is not an external circumstance, but rather an internal commitment to a high level of integrity. These are the people who do not necessarily close every deal or land every new big hot account that comes along. However, in their actions and attitude, 365 days a year, they walk with integrity.
How would you define integrity? I would define it as adhering to strong moral and ethical standards, regardless of the situation or result of such commitment. In other words, integrity is not a commodity you can casually use when it benefits you, and carelessly throw aside when it doesn’t. Consistency is one of the hallmark signs of true integrity.
As a consultant for more than a decade, I have had the opportunity to watch several people over the course of not just weeks or months, but years. If you have been in sales a long time, you too have had the unique perspective of spotting the people others trust and want to follow. Sometimes this person holds official capacity as a leader, but often the “leader” is not high up in an organization. Regardless of a leader’s “official” position, they likely wield much influence because of their integrity.
Integrity starts with allowing yourself to be personally and publically accountable for everything you do and everything you think. In fact, integrity is more about holding yourself personally to a higher degree of accountability, because the real onus of integrity is how it guides you each day in your actions and activities. Accept 100% responsibility for how you carry yourself and do so with a high standard.
When it comes to strengthening integrity, here are some points to consider:
- No one can be forced to operate with integrity. It’s completely an internal choice that is reflected in external actions.
- It’s never too late to start. If you have struggled with integrity in the past, begin today to set a new course. In small ways and big ways, begin to line up your actions and attitudes with a strong moral and ethical standard.
- Accept the fact that you may not close every deal, because you are not willing to compromise your standards.
- The real measurement of integrity is what you do when nobody is looking and when nobody will ever find out what you have or have not done.
- Learn from those around you who live and breathe integrity. Become a student of their approaches and reactions – not just when the circumstances are good, but particularly when the circumstances are hard. As much as you can, surround yourself with these people. More than likely, they will not only have the highest degree of integrity, they will also be the most optimistic.
Whether you have been in sales a short time or for years, you owe it to yourself to achieve a level of success that is rooted in integrity. That kind of success cannot be matched. You will find yourself experiencing long-term success, and best of all, it will come in ways you least expect it.