Editor's note: Brian O'Neill, CMSWire Contributor and former chief client officer for FIS, wrote for CX and other teams in his former organization a series of articles. Each were titled, “The Path ... " with each edition being a new take. For example, he would discuss culture, leadership, ownership, purpose, etc. In his six-plus years in his CX role, he sent out 286 notes with the intention to empower, reinforce and frame his company's mission by sharing insights to help his team improve its game and increase its level of engagement in what it wanted to accomplish. He revives some of these notes and adds some current perspective in this Fall/Winter 2022/2023 CMSWire series.

Over the course of nearly 6.5 years and 286 editions of The Path, you would be hard-pressed to find a topic that we did not touch on. The subject of perseverance really hit home with the start of the global pandemic — so much was asked of so many that I wanted to share insights not only into how to persevere but to use what would be otherwise deemed as “sales skills” to help all of us recognize not only how to survive but to thrive.

Perseverance shows itself as persistence in action. Perseverance is ultimately what separates those that want versus those that achieve.

The 9 Ps of Selling

Roughly 15 years ago I was asked to deliver a keynote for a financial technology (fintech) sales team at their annual kick-off meeting. The leaders asked for an inspired approach to help frame an approach to drive improved results for the team.

No pressure.

Having run sales teams in the consumer-packaged goods and fintech industries, it was important to reflect back on the best practices of the top performers. The goal was to create a model that could be emulated and put into practice in a repeatable manner.

While you may be familiar with the “4-Ps of Marketing” being Product, Price, Place and Promotion, there had to be a framework that not only supported a repeatable sales process, but an approach that helped provides success throughout the organization.

Enter the 9-Ps of selling.

Or, perhaps, running your organization.

We’ve all been in the room at least once in our career when the mantra, “We are all in Sales!” has been expressed. While no one doubts the accuracy of that statement, the rub, and there is always a rub, is simply that not everyone shares a “sales mindset.” 

Related Article: The Path to Excellence, Part 1: Guide for CX Leaders Begins Again

So, how do you bridge the gap and build awareness to the steps needed to drive consistent growth through a repeatable process? More importantly, how do you ensure that the entire team is aligned and recognizes their part in enterprise success regardless of their role?

Perhaps it is sharing an approach that reflects the importance each team plays in delivering on that promise. Here is ultimately what I created and delivered that day in Nashville:

  • Preparation: It is 9/10’s of the law and is the simplest way to create differentiation by contemplating and readying yourself for all contingencies
  • Planning: The strategic approach frames the plan, but the tactical is needed for execution which is often missed or poorly communicated
  • Prospecting: This is not just a sales or marketing practice. Do your Dev and product teams understand your market and what they want in a solution? TAM expansion? Ancillary markets?
  • Purpose: The “why” must be defined, and fully consumed by your team — it is the belief that yields the confidence, and confidence is the foundation of success
  • Product: While one of the 4-Ps of Marketing, in this construct it is as much about recognizing and being able to communicate the value it will have for the client; how it benefits them
  • Presentation: Being able to clearly articulate the value proposition and the “why” exists beyond a pitch-deck; it must resonate in the fabric of the culture and demonstrated by passion
  • Partnership: Interestingly enough, rarely do we stop and understand what type of relationship our colleagues and clients want with the enterprise — this unlocks the use and focus of energy
  • Perception: To quote a movie, “how can you be so obtuse?” Awareness of how your audience is receiving your message and adjusting accordingly is one of the ultimate skills to be mastered
  • Perseverance: Persistence in action and ultimately what separates those that want versus those that achieve; and the reason for this edition of The Path

You can sequence these nine ideas anyway you like, but this is the order that I chose to share that day. It seemed to help frame the journey and facilitate the roadmap needed to ensure the destination is not only arrived at, but done so in a way that recognizes the value of time and the role others play in driving this success.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: The Path to Excellence, Part 10: What Purpose Means to Your Company

Only You Can Execute Perseverance

All of that said, in the absence of perseverance, the absolute willingness to get up, get out of bed, put on the uniform and slug it out, none of the other eight matter. Not if your goal is to be sustainable.

There is that rub again, there’s always a rub, and in the rub must be addressed. 

While the other eight ideas can be executed upon, the ninth, perseverance, is the one that needs you to execute it. The willingness not to get down when things go badly. The desire to recognize that, as the Stockdale Paradox portends, that ultimately and in the end, you will triumph.

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” — Admiral James Stockdale

As we look back on our careers, my suspicion is that this will be the time most determined by perseverance. Consider what we, us, all of us, our teams included are going through:

  • Global pandemic
  • The Great Resignation/Quiet Quitting
  • Economic uncertainty
  • Political polarization
  • Russian invasion of Ukraine

Add to this the recent impact of Hurricane Ian and the devastation is has wreaked in its path. Stockdale was correct when he said we must, “confront the most brutal facts of (y)our current reality.” 

Perseverance. Persevere. Persist. This is your time to lead and to be sure your team does not hit the snooze button.

Enjoy the journey!

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