Remember your early days in sales?  Remember your early days as a sales manager?

Earlier this week I was discussing sales with a VP of Sales and we were talking about the value of strategic thinking and relationships.

After the conversation, as I’m heading to catch my flight, I got thinking about my conversation and suddenly flashes of my early days as a key account manager flashed through my brain.

I began to process what I had been discussing with the VP of Sales and thinking about my days dealing with accounts, and I realized how I wasn’t doing what I should have been doing.

As my taxi began nearing the airport, it dawned on me.  I was sure stupid in those early days.  It hit me that the strategic aspects of selling were simply not part of my selling process.  In fact, it wasn’t even on my radar screen.

As I began thinking about the client relationships I had, it hit me even harder.

I had failed.

Was I successful as a salesperson and a sales manager?  I must have been or I would not have achieved the level of success I did. But it begs the question — “How much more success could I have had?”

If I had known then what I know now, I can only imagine the level of success I could have achieved.

Simply put, I should have been fired for my incompetence, or at least put on the proverbial “double-secret probation” — to quote a famous line from the great movie (at least in my mind) Animal House.

Why am I confessing my failure to you now?

One reason — we as leaders have an obligation to lead, and that means helping those we lead to achieve a higher level of success.

I’m not faulting those who led me. I was fortunate to have some incredible leaders along the way.

Despite how good the leaders were, there was still a lot of uncovered teritory in things to learn.

What are you doing to help those you lead to become better?

What are you doing personally to improve yourself?

Would you fire yourself?

Here’s the missing link — ego and arrogance — or, shall I say, the need to put it aside.  The reason I should have been fired is not because I was stupid.

No, I should have been fired due to my ego and arrogance in thinking the success I was having was all due to my skills and there wasn’t anything I could do to take it to an even higher level.

Park the ego, park the arrogance and ask yourself, “Who can I learn from and what can I learn?”

The level of success you ultimately achieve is not to be left up to somebody else, rather it’s up to you and your ability to turn every opportunity into a learning activity.

Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

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