In the fast-paced world of business today, success is often perceived as a solitary journey. While distributor CEOs and senior sales leaders are often more customer- and employee-centric than those in other verticals, many have traditionally focused on bottom-line results. This focus makes it easy to overlook the profound impact that a collaborative, altruistic approach can have on company growth.
Enter the concept of the “Other-Centric Pass-Through.”
Understanding the Other-Centric Pass-Through
This is a phrase I coined to describe a philosophical mindset that leverages the power of helping others succeed to achieve one’s own goals. While I penned that phrase, I can’t claim the concept as original.
- Over 30 years ago, I heard Zig Ziglar say that we can get what we want in life, if only we help enough others get what they want. I heard it on an audio-cassette tape set of Ziglar’s, that was published by Nightingale-Conant. I was listening while driving in my car and remember the moment as if it were yesterday. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
- Later that year, on another tape set by Tony Alessandra, I heard him explain his Platinum Rule, “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” It’s a powerful shift from the Golden Rule of treating others how you want to be treated.
- In the nineties, I read about it in Hal Rosenbluth’s book, The Customer Comes Second, where the premise was that if you put your employees first and treat them like gold, they will in turn treat your customers like gold.
- I’ve since heard it from Charlie Green and Andrea Howe of Trusted Advisor Associates, and a host of other empathetic, human-centered thought leaders.
But as much as some of us beat this drum, I still don’t see the other-centric pass-through in action as much as I’d like.
In this article, I’ll delve into the essence of the other-centric pass-through, explore its implications for companies, and provide actionable insights for implementing this approach.
The other-centric pass-through centers on the principle that by genuinely assisting others in reaching their objectives, one can indirectly facilitate the achievement of their own goals. This philosophy stands in stark contrast to the conventional zero-sum game mentality, where personal advancement comes at the expense of others.
Even today, some still approach selling with Machiavellian tactics, war terminology, psychological ploys and manipulation (I call them Jedi Mind Tricks), and combative phrases like “overcoming objections.”
By adopting an other-centric perspective, company leaders can harness the inherent synergy that arises when individuals collaborate rather than compete, and support rather than manipulate.
The Power of Mutual Success in Sales
In the profession of sales, the other-centric pass-through is especially relevant.
Consider the role of a professional salesperson who strives to make a sale or grow a key account. Instead of focusing solely on their commission or getting the customer to do what they want, they approach the sales process with a genuine desire to understand and address their buyer’s challenges and opportunities. By delivering tailored solutions that fulfill the buyer’s needs and help them achieve their desired outcomes.
The salesperson establishes trust and credibility – in essence, becoming a trusted advisor and partner. This trust lays the foundation for long-term customer relationships, leading to repeat business and referrals.
Moreover, sales managers can embody the other-centric pass-through by nurturing the growth of their sales teams. Instead of acting as a super-seller or simply demanding results, effective sales managers prioritize coaching, mentoring, peer support, and providing the necessary resources for each team member to excel. In doing so, they empower their team to collectively achieve and exceed targets, fostering a culture of collaboration and mutual support.
Psychological safety and accountability are not mutually exclusive. In my Sales Coaching Excellence course, I say that sellers must own their development, and managers must become their guide or Sherpa. When front-line sales managers put the above into action, it’s a powerful force multiplier.
Benefits of Embracing the Other-Centric Pass-Through
There are so many benefits, and the concept can be adopted at multiple levels in any organization.
“If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.”
– Jan Carlzon, former CEO of SAS Group
- Enhanced customer relationships: Adopting an other-centric approach in sales deepens customer relationships. Clients appreciate salespeople who prioritize their needs over immediate gains. In Modern Sales Foundations, “buyer-centric” is defined as “operating in your buyers’ and customers’ best interest.” This approach transforms customers into advocates, leading to organic business growth through positive word-of-mouth and referrals.
- Elevated employee engagement: Sales teams thrive when managers shift from a self-centered approach to one focused on their team’s success. When salespeople perceive their managers genuinely invested in their growth, they become more engaged, motivated and productive. This is especially true of the younger generations who are moving into and moving up in the workforce.
- Business growth: The other-centric pass-through extends beyond the sales department. By promoting collaboration across departments, companies can develop integrated solutions that cater to broader customer needs and align around achieving goals and objectives. This approach facilitates innovation and often unlocks new revenue streams.
- Long-term sustainability: Companies built on the foundation of mutual success are more likely to weather challenges and economic fluctuations. Strong relationships with customers and employees provide stability, even in times of uncertainty.
Implementing the Other-Centric Pass-Through
Here are a handful of ideas you can consider. But beyond this brief list, the most impactful thing you can do is to gather your leaders, discuss this concept of the other-centric pass-through and have them brainstorm how you can maximize it at your company. Then, have them take the ideas to their teams, as a kick-start, to engage them, further explore it, and plant the seeds for a grassroots effort of building an other-centric culture. It will pay dividends for you.
- Cultivate a collaborative culture: Start by fostering a culture where collaboration is celebrated. Encourage cross-departmental interactions, knowledge sharing and joint problem-solving. Recognize and reward instances where employees actively support their peers and especially your customers.
- Shift managerial focus: Sales managers should transition from solely tracking individual performance metrics to emphasizing both team and individual growth and development. Regular coaching, personalized training plans, identifying and closing competency gaps, and ongoing feedback sessions will empower each team member to excel.
- Invest in sales enablement: The concept of the other-centric pass-through aligns seamlessly with the sales enablement strategies I write about and teach in The Building Blocks of Sales Enablement. Provide sales teams with the tools, content, resources and training they need to deliver exceptional value to customers (with that value being defined by the customer).
(Read more about sales enablement and how it can help your company.)
- Measure mutual success: Develop KPIs that assess both individual and team-based achievements. Include metrics related to customer satisfaction, collaboration and employee engagement to track the impact of an other-centric approach.
I hope this article has been helpful for you. For distribution CEOs and senior sales leaders, the other-centric pass-through can present a transformative paradigm shift. Leaders who recognize the potential of this approach can harness the power of mutual success to drive sustainable growth.
You may be partway there or already deep into this. If so, congratulations. Take it deeper. Make it purposeful and consistent. By fostering a collaborative culture, emphasizing team development, and investing in sales enablement, your leaders can pave the way for an environment where success is shared, multiplied and lasting. The other-centric pass-through is not just a strategy; it’s a philosophy made actionable that can shape the future of your business.
If you care to share, I’d sincerely enjoy hearing about your journey. You can find me easily on LinkedIn, at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikekunkle.
Mike Kunkle is a recognized expert on sales enablement, sales effectiveness, and sales transformation. He’s spent over 29 years helping companies drive dramatic revenue growth through best-in-class enablement strategies and proven-effective sales transformation systems. In doing that, he’s delivered impressive results for both employers and clients. Mike is the founder of Transforming Sales Results, LLC and works as the Vice President of Sales Effectiveness Services for SPARXiQ, where he designs sales training, delivers workshops, and helps clients improve sales results through a variety of sales effectiveness services. Mike collaborated with Doug Wyatt to develop SPARXiQ’s Modern Sales Foundations™ curriculum and has authored SPARXiQ’s Sales Coaching Excellence™ course, a book on The Building Blocks of Sales Enablement, and collaborated with Felix Krueger to develop The Building Blocks of Sales Enablement Learning Experience.