For Better Results, Turn Selling Into Serving

There is a current TV ad with Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, playing with some children and they are picking teams for some sort of game (  Each team captain begins picking players, and surprisingly, Wilson is last to be picked.  On first look, you wonder how someone so obviously advantaged could be last to be placed on a team for a kids game.  Wilson makes light of it when he tells one of the other kids waiting to be picked that he was 75th to be picked for the NFL (subtext: it’s no big deal being picked late).

Now all of this is cute and really all about getting kids out and into activity but right at the end there is a business lesson for us.  The final shot is of Wilson stuck in a tiny crawl tunnel as part of a children’s obstacle course.  You see, racing through an obstacle course was the game, and the kids knew this big football player would actually be a hindrance to winning.

So, you may be wondering, what’s the lesson?  In my business experience, I find many times where sales people miss the point of sales in the same way Wilson missed the point of being on the team. Much like Wilson, so many sales people get more worried about their needs, which for Wilson was getting picked and for sales people is making the sale, instead of the true objective, which for Wilson was how he could help the team win and for sales people is helping the customer succeed.  More simply put, many sales people are too worried about selling instead of serving because serving (helping customers reach their objectives) is really what selling should be all about.

Think about it, if Wilson knew about the game, he would have totally understood why he would be picked last and would have probably been thinking of ways where he could help the team win rather than being concerned with some damage to his ego.  Similarly, sales people should be consumed with ensuring customer success (team win) rather than making a sale (ego).

How can you change your sales perspective from selling to serving?  I’ve seen some sales people make this shift and it has resulted in much greater success than what they had previously experienced.  If you want to read a great book about how sales organizations can make this shift, I highly recommend Lisa Earle Mcleod’s Selling with Noble Purpose.  In this book she details how to go about this move and how it has benefited several organizations.  For a taster of Mcleod’s thinking, click on this link (



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