Daniel Pink, author and business thought leader, claims that we all are salespeople in one way or another. In Daniel’s words, “Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, entrepreneurs enticing funders to invest, or parents and teachers cajoling children to study, we spend our days trying to move others. Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.”
The bottom line is that most of us spend our days helping others transact with us in one way or another. If you are a manager, you are involved in a daily transaction of exchanging money for your employees’ effort, or exchanging your ability to inspire and foster your employees with their time and efforts. All of us try to ‘upsell’ the people we are transacting with.
Consider Jim, who has asked his top project manager, Jared, to stay late every evening this week to finish up an important job. Jim has to ‘sell’ Jared on this proposal, right? Even though he is being paid, depending on the relationship and arrangement, Jared might ‘buy in’ to the proposal, he may say that he needs to leave at a designated time each day because of family obligations, or he may stay, begrudgingly. Now when you need him to also enthusiastically give up lunch time and set aside his other work in order to get this project done, you are basically ‘upselling’ Jared on this project, and hoping to get his buy-in.
This is the perfect occasion to shift from upselling to upserving. Service as a road to increased effectiveness is part of a new model for sales, the kind of sales that we all are involved in, not just the sales clerk at a department store or a smarmy sales person at the car lot. It’s the business of becoming more effective, at work and in life.
The concept of ‘servant leadership’ was revolutionary when it surfaced in business literature, back in the early 1970s. Servant leadership is particularly important for all of us, as we learn to ‘upserve’ everyone with whom we come in contact. In the words of Robert Greenleaf, the author of the first essay on servant leadership, “Becoming a servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”
Upserving brings the idea of servant-leadership to a practical level for all of us. Just like Jim, who was entreating Jared into embracing a heavier workload, we are all trying to move others, in many situations, each day. According to Daniel Pink, the key to your increased effectiveness is to make sure that you are always keeping in check about the difference between upserving and upselling. Here are some key questions to ask yourself:
1. If the person you are selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life or position improve?
2. When your interaction is over, will the world (your company, or your team) be a better place than when you began?
A ‘yes’ answer to both of these questions gets clearly to the core of genuine service.
Starting with service in mind will take each of your interactions further than you could have come by convincing, cajoling or threatening others with possible negative consequences.
“Upserving means doing more for the other person than he expects or you intially intended, taking the extra steps that transform a mundane interaction into a memorable experience. This simple move -from upselling to upserving- has the obvious advantage of being the right thing to do. But it also carries the hidden advantage of being extraordinarily effective.
Anytime you’re tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you’re doing and upserve instead. Don’t try to increase what they can do for you. Elevate what you can do for them.”
(Author, To Sell Is Human)