I recently was asked to speak on a national client sales call, where I shared my insights into something I’m very passionate about: reframing the way we approach our work. Today, I wanted to give a glimpse into this important topic and challenge all of us to rethink what drives us on a daily basis.
Why Do You Do What You Do?
The most common question that people ask one another when they first meet is: “What do you do?” What they mean by this, of course, is “what is your job?” My answer, for almost 25 years, has been along the lines of “public sector sales consulting.”
Such exchanges are all well and good, but there’s an even more important follow-up question that many fail to ask: “Why?” Why is that your chosen profession? Why do you spend the bulk of your waking hours working in that particular field? Well… why do you?
In my case, you might think my “why” is because I like to practice patience and help clients write RFP responses. Or maybe in your case it’s because the pay is great, it puts food on the table, I like my coworkers and I believe in my company’s values. All of this is true and all of these are valid reasons to choose – and stick with – a vocation. Even so, I want to challenge you to think about your “why” and go deeper than the surface responses.
Start with Understanding Your Customer
In my work bringing together the private and public sectors, I think beyond merely the RFPs, legislation and budget reports: I think about my clients’ missions. If you are a Traversant Group client, it’s similarly important to think about your customer’s mission. Your customer, naturally, would be the government.
So, following this line of reasoning, let’s start from the beginning. The government provides services. And government, whether state, local or federal, is driven by a mission, not by profit or stock prices. This mission takes on different forms. Here are some examples:
- Department of Economic Security’s mission is to make Arizona stronger by helping Arizonans reach their potential through temporary assistance for those in need, and care for the vulnerable.
- Colorado Department of Transportation’s mission is to provide the best multi-modal transportation system for Colorado that most effectively and safely moves people, goods and information.
- New Mexico (NM) Taxation and Revenue Department’s mission is to serve the State of New Mexico by providing fair and efficient tax and motor vehicle services.
Extending Value & Making Change
Why does all this matter? Because when you sell to the government, it’s not just a transaction. You are supporting and furthering a department’s mission. Everything you do is impacting someone who is receiving a service from the government.
For example, the COVID-19 vaccine management system was rolled out in March of 2021 in Arizona. As a result, more than 475,000 vaccines were administered in a single week. If you were the company behind the vaccine management technology, think of the impact you helped achieve for individuals, families and the greater community.
If you’re in the business of cybersecurity, yes – you are selling firewall software. But aren’t you really doing so much more? Aren’t you supporting the government’s mission to keep citizens’ data safe and giving those citizens security and peace of mind? In each of these scenarios and so many more, private companies increase the government’s capacity to do more good. That is enormously impactful. That, above all else, should be your why.
Becoming an Advisor
Now, let’s take this one step further. Your customers are people who want to do good. After all, we can all agree that no one works in government to be a movie star. Folks are there to serve a mission. To ignore the connection between the mission and your product or service is to miss the entire point. Understanding and supporting your customer’s mission, however, will set you up to gain other opportunities and to truly fill the role of an advisor.
So, the question then becomes: Do you want to be a sales executive and an advisor? If you understand how you can help achieve mission outcomes, you are an advisor. The next time you reach out to a customer, read their mission statement. Appreciate that you are also serving that mission and let your customer know this. This may not be a well-known approach, but it’s an important and meaningful one that can make all the difference.
Interested in working with an advisory team that thrives on supporting the missions of the private and public sectors? Request a consultation here.