Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rugged Individualism Trumps Collectivism When Working to be Successful in Sales

For thousands of years, countries, governments, and monarchies were run using a collectivist model. What was good for the country or the leadership in charge was always best for the people. The needs of the group were always far more important than the desires or ambitions of the individual. Basically, none of the kings or emperors really cared about empowering individuals to be in charge of their own future.

For a short period of time, the Greeks and the Romans got away from this way of thinking - but it never lasted in their respective civilizations. The idea of rugged individualism, free speech, and self expression didn't really take hold in our world until the founding of the United States in the late 18th century.

While I'm personally a big believer in rugged individualism and American exceptionalism, there are still times where collectivism is needed. For instance, without a collectivist effort, the world would have fallen into darkness under Nazism in the 1940's. Even in sports, your favorite team would never win a game without a collectivist effort. Without people working together in a collectivist way, your company would never be able to thrive or even stay in business.

In sales, however, I fully believe that rugged individualism trumps collectivism when it comes to being successful. The best way I can explain this is by using the sport of baseball. You need to play the field on defense as a team player. You might even be called upon to lay down a bunt or to try to hit a sacrifice fly ball. But no matter how well you play defense or are perceived as a "team" player, you cannot escape the fact that you must have individual accomplishment at the plate. If you cannot hit effectively as an individual, you won't play.

It is no different in sales. Yes, you need to be team player, but you cannot hide from the fact that your sales numbers and individual results will define your success above everything else. While you have to give attention to both areas when working in sales, remember that it is the individual accomplishment that will come to define the overall success of your career. If you fail to recognize this aspect of being a salesperson, you could certainly find yourself in a position you don't want to be in later on down the road.

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