What Do You Stand for? Discovering Your Core Values and Thriving in Sales
Would you like to know my secret to thriving in a sales career? All I had to do was identify my core values. Sounds simple right? But let me tell you, it’s definitely not easy to do.
Most of us don’t know our values because the media, our culture, and the society we live in are constantly telling us what to value and what we should try to achieve. If we don’t take the time to examine ourselves, we will never fully understand what’s most important to us. This inevitably leads to unhappiness.
But before I go any further, why the hell does this even matter?
Simplify decision making by knowing your values
When you know what your values are, you can approach decisions with confidence and clarity. You’ll know that what you’re doing is best for your current and future satisfaction – that it’s something that’s right for you.
Because your personal values are a central part of who you are – and who you want to be. By becoming more aware of these important factors in your life, you can use them as a guide to make the best choice in any situation.
Like when I decided to build a gym in my house because I wanted to achieve my fitness goals. I looked around at my environment and asked, “What can I tweak to move forward faster?”
What you do is who you are
You can say what you like, tell someone you’re nice, or say you’re a runner – but if you never run, and you almost always act like a tool towards people, are you really the person you say you are?
Your values leave a mark on every interaction you have and as a salesperson you interact with A LOT of people. So, think about what kind of mark you are leaving. How does it make you feel, and more importantly how does it make others feel?
Values are like fingerprints, Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do. — Elvis Presley
Truth is, your prospective clients aren’t just buying a product; they’re also buying you and what you believe in. Your values shape who you are and drive your behaviours, and these behaviours will help you through the ups and downs of sales – because you know exactly where you’re heading and who you want to become.
When you know what you value, you can identify your North Star. This makes it easier to make decisions and remove ambiguity from what you want to achieve.
I’ve been working and evaluating my core values since 2014, when I was first introduced to the concept by a coach and friend of mine Nikki Vescovi. It’s important to be aware of your core values and also understand that they will evolve over time which is why frequent reflection is important.
For example, my top core value is Progress. So if I need to make a decision – whether to join a new company or invest my time in something – I ask myself, “Does this align with my core value of Progress, and how?”
If the answer is no, it’s easy for me to move on to another opportunity. If it’s a yes, I can then explore further to see how this new thing aligns with my other core values.
Key takeaway for why personal core values are important:
Values are a part of us. They highlight what we stand for. They can represent our unique, individual essence.
Values guide our behaviour and provide us with a personal code of conduct.
When we honour our personal core values consistently, we experience fulfilment.
When we don’t, we are incongruent and are more likely to escape into bad habits and regress into bad behaviour to uplift ourselves (overeating, drinking, smoking).
When you know your values, you will seek out the things that matter most to you.
Values are basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes or actions. They help us to determine what is important to us. Values describe the personal qualities we choose to embody to guide our actions; the sort of person we want to be; the manner in which we treat ourselves and others, and our interaction with the world around us. They provide the general guidelines for conduct.” — Steve Mintz, Ethics Sage
Uncovering my core values
In 2014, when I first started researching the importance of core values, I identified three priorities: accountability, trust, and competence.
But when I revisited these at the end of 2020, it was apparent that I had grown and my core values had evolved. The list of things that are important to me now looks something like this:
Progress: Keep moving forward, keep getting better, small steps lead to big improvements
Fun: If you’re not having fun then what’s the point? Fun for me is winning and progressing in the things that I am doing
Freedom of choice: The freedom to do what I want, when I want to, unrestricted by others or finances.
Fitness: Taking pride in how I look and feel, showing discipline and holding myself accountable to others.
Being of service: Help others, always. Karma is real!
Grit: Passion and perseverance for long-term goals. I want to be the best and do the things I need to do to get there – reading, learning, being mentored.
Mental resilience: I show this by acting as an example, by doing the things that I fear, by doing the things that are hard and living to tell the story.
Take my profession seriously: If I don’t, then what’s the point of all this effort? A job is a career, a chance to make a difference to myself and others.
So, how did I work these out? And what’s my process for revisiting and refreshing them?
How to discover your personal core values
Even if we haven’t managed to fully articulate our core values, we are already living by them. The problem here is that when we are not self aware of our values, it becomes far more challenging to fully understand what our goals are and what we truly want out of life.
This is when we end up making decisions that don’t make us happy or get stuck in a job that we hate just because that’s the “safe” option or what we are “supposed” to do.
While the process of figuring out your core values is best done with a qualified coach, you can start with a simple exercise and do it on your own if you apply self-honesty, patience, and determination.
So, don’t just answer these questions in your head. Write your answers down – pen and paper, or typed on on your screen. What matters is that you verbalise your thought process.
Here are my seven steps for identifying what’s most important to me:
1. Identify the times when you were happiest. What were you doing? Were you with other people? Who? What other factors contributed to your happiness?
2. Identify the times when you were most proud. Why were you proud? Did other people share your pride? Who? What other factors contributed to your feelings of pride?
3. Identify the times when you were fulfilled. What need or desire was fulfilled? How and why did the experience give your life meaning? What other factors contributed to your feelings of fulfilment?
4. Identify your top values (from this list of potential values). Based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfilment, write out your top five that best represent these scenarios.
5. Rank your values. List them out from highest to lowest importance. I know it’s hard, but no one said this would be easy.
6. Reaffirm your values. Check your top-priority values. How do you feel? Do they represent causes you would support? How would you feel if you shared these with people you admire and respect?
7. Reflect. Now, take a few minutes to think about how you operate on a daily basis, how do your actions align with the values that you’ve established?
Learn more: Find out how knowing your core values can help you achieve the goals you’ve set.