This revealing story was told by speaker Lisa McLeod at the recent Murphy Conference for their impressive network of business brokers across the country. McLeod gave a very nice talk based on her book Selling with Noble Purpose.
McLeod was facing a conundrum in her research. As she spoke to sales people who loved the idea of selling with a noble purpose, they often said that their boss would never go for it as they were too focused on the bottom line. And as she spoke to management who loved the idea of selling with a noble purpose, they also said that their sales people would never support it as they were too focused on their commissions and bottom line. She could not figure out the disconnect.
One day as she was volunteering in an elementary school classroom, the students had an assignment to draw a picture of their mothers’ favorite things. One by one, the children finished their pictures and there was an uncanny consistency among the pictures: most of them showed ‘cleaning’ and ‘sleeping’ as their mothers’ favorite things. McLeod knew the children and knew many of their mothers. She knew that ‘cleaning’ and ‘sleeping’ were not their most favorite things. She began asking the children why they drew those pictures.
The answers soon became obvious as the children said that their mothers talked most often about cleaning (‘We have got to clean up around here”) and sleeping (“I just can’t wait to get a good night’s sleep”), so those must be their favorite things. It then became apparent to McLeod that both the sales people and the management may agree with the idea of selling with a noble purpose, but they were talking only about the bottom line with each other.
The words and emphasis of a business owner matters a great deal. We must all be conscious about speaking to both the noble purpose of our organization AND the bottom line numbers and metrics. Our organizations need to know that we care about both.