The Alphabet Article Series – The ABCs of Solving Sales Problems – The 3 “Z’s”

Like with all things good in life, there is a bittersweet element here as I pen these words for the final article in our ABC series. I must admit something that I learned though this process. For all the years I’ve been in sales and marketing, I never had as profound a respect for content creators in our field as I do now. I can tell you after the months I’ve committed to this cause, I will never undervalue or underestimate content creators and their discipline. I’ve heard colleagues say how tough it is to do well day-in and day-out – I’ve now lived it – my hats off to all of you who contribute to the world of marketing by creating content! 

Let’s get right in: Zeal, Zest, Zip 

Zeal. Like with any emotional term, there can be positives and negatives associated to them, especially as they apply to your professional culture and your sales teams and their efforts. This “Z” to me implies fire and gusto, enthusiasm and eagerness. In their pure form they can be somewhat raw, but can most certainly serve as the foundation on which you can build monster momentum and sales success. Like with all raw materials, though, zeal needs to be carefully nurtured, tempered and needs constant monitoring by you as a sales leader. The reality is that it is a fine line, in particular because you want to fan the flame in some instances, with encouragement and even a little “rah-rah” while being careful not to grow the blaze out of control. You also need to know when and how to temper, without running the risk of putting out the flame or crushing intentions that could build momentum.   

My suggestion is, first and foremost, to know your team well. You need to understand who they are and what makes them tick. You also need to look honestly at the make-up of the entirety of your team. There is a strong possibility that you may be able to encourage the group to self-regulate, to encourage when the time is right, to temper where appropriate. You may also benefit from varying ages and personalities on your team. That is an asset. Utilize those differences that come naturally to help maintain balance. 

Zest. For the purposes of this dialogue, I am referring to the outer layer of fruits. As you meander through the produce section of your favorite grocery store, oftentimes it is the bright and bold colors of the zest of the fruit that catches your eye. Bright yellows and greens, and often thick to the touch. But unless you’re using some zest grated up in a recipe, it’s not the zest you’re really afterit’s the fruit inside. The sweet and savory, the tart and tangy. That’s the real goodness you’re after. 

I would argue, it’s the same with your sales team. On the surface, both as professionals and people, there is one appearance. And honestly, the outward appearance (or attitude) may be one thing and their potential as team contributors something else entirely. As their leader, I’d encourage you to get under the surface, know your people and take time to get to know what they could contribute – ideas, passion, experience, support – you may be missing out on some of their untapped potential otherwise. 

Zip. So, there are two elements of this “Z” I’d like to touch on. The first is the rapidity definition of the word, the other is when it means you ended up with nothing at all. There are certain elements in business that require rapidity, including sales. I would liken this concept to other aspects like discipline and metrics as well, including the sheer volume a team can produce by moving with some urgency. I know most sales teams are an eclectic mix of personalities, and they all move at their own pace. But I also think, from a cultural perspective, there should be some urgency applied to activity, including deliverables and followup with prospects and clients. Not speed forsaking quality, but urgency that is carefully planned and is established as part of your culture and your ability to deliver. Setting this tone may have its drawbacks, but I view it like any other exercise – physical, mental or spiritual – it’s the first few miles that hurt the worst. What’s more, after the exercise has become a routine, a lifestyle or habit, the ability to do and be more becomes inherent.

As for nothing at all, well that certainly is a different application of the word. As I thought about this usage, I thought about all the hours that went into this series. All the hours we all put in as professionals, each and every day, trying to reach the next goal. I bring this up in the spirit of humanity. I want to take the risk and reference Matthew 16:26. No matter how you worship, this passage matters to all of us driven leaders and professionals. It states, “For what is a man profited it he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” I would go on to add loss of family, loss of friendship, loss of joy, and loss of the beauty of this life we are given. Drive on business leaders, meet goals, encourage and develop your business and your teams. But remember, our work is really only a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Let it nourish you, let it drive you, let it help you make a contribution to others around you. But never, ever let it consume you. Don’t let it deprive you of the life you were given and of the gifts who are those loved ones who surround you for you, the person, not the professional. 

Put people first, use the 3 “Z’s” as they can benefit you best, and know that I am here to help or just chat, should you ever want to discuss what’s best for your team. 

To raising all ships! 

P.S. We welcome your feedback on this series, especially if you found it helpful with your sales teams. We hope you’ve enjoyed the ABC series and are better for having spent time with us here at EagleONE.