There has been much talk by business commentators and writers about the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurialism. At times it is perhaps easy to think that, given some of these ideas, that we should go and quit our jobs and run headlong into a new venture expecting it to be fundamentally different to our previous roles.
Whilst the opportunity of starting a business undoubtedly provides opportunity and fulfillment for some, it is not the be-all and end-all, it is certainly not for everyone and most definitely is not a better or worse option – merely an option.
There is perhaps a perception that one is easy whilst the other is hard. That one is safe, whilst the other is risky. Or that one is right and the other is wrong.
Depending on your position, you may attribute each of the above to your chosen preference.
However, my belief – having done both – is that neither is any easier or harder, safer or riskier or better or worse. They’re just different. And each is based on fit and personal preference.
Isn’t there always a ‘but’?
The ‘but’ is that there is no difference in the above so long as your ultimate goal is to be the owner of whatever your kingdom looks like. Whether that be a business, project, initiative, role, territory, region, country or something even bigger.
Because regardless of any of the above, those people who perform well and who are successful, always have a number of key attributes in common.
And above all else, they behave like ‘intraprenuers’.
So that we are clear on this, let me start with a definition of an Intraprenuer.
An Intraprenuer is a person who effectively works with others as part a team, who takes direct responsibility for the success of a project or initiative; who assumes ownership of turning an idea into a profitable outcome, through assertion and innovation.
Let’s consider some of these key elements in turn.
Effectively works with others
This person works within an team. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. Over-resourced or under-resourced – that’s not important. This person is part of a team and works with the team. They actively seek to involve others and leverage that available knowledge base.
Now more than ever before, sales people are required to manage the delicate balance of relationships which exist between multiple stakeholders. Often trying to align goals and requirements, the skill of identifying the right people and bringing them together in a collaborative and constructive manner are now crucial in the modern selling environment.
Takes direct responsibility
Regardless of their title or role, this person proactively takes direct responsibility for the outcome. They don’t wait to be told and they don’t rely on other people. They’re the ones who will put their neck on the line to make sure it happens.
Is success and outcome orientated
The outcome will be measured by success. This person can define what a successful outcome will look like and be able to answer the question, ‘how do you know you have been successful?’ It doesn’t matter the type or size of the project or initiative and it isn’t defined by job role or function.
Regardless of hierarchy, they want responsibility for the outcome. Whilst respectful of the ‘chain of command’ that doesn’t mean it is someone else’s to own. It is their thing.
Whether that be a product, territory, account, customer, project or initiative, it’s their business. They own it.
Ensures a profitable outcome
The role of the business is to maxmise profit and this person understands the critical role they play. That means that in the pursuit of any commercial outcome, they are cognisant of the profitability of the initiative, not only with respect to the direct revenue and the cost associated with the final outcome but also the cost associated in it’s pursuit and the relative opportunity costs.
This person is confident and driven. They are results-orientated and make things happen. Where others may stumble, the intraprenuer is focused on the outcome and adjusts their activity in order to ensure an optimal outcome. Importantly though, they know when to quit and move on. Understanding that their time bares a cost, they select their opportunities wisely and then guide the customer journey.
Perhaps the defining feature, this requires creative thinking, exploring new ideas, considering possibilities and ensuring divergent and open thinking in the first instance. In addition to looking ‘outside of the box’, they focus on ‘the edges of the box’, the place where in addition to being innovative and creative, it is also within the sphere of their control.
Gone are the days of following a script or check list. The new rules are, there are no rules. Anything is possible and they think in terms of possibilities first before prioritizing the highest value activity.
In the new economy we now live and work in, it is the traits and behaviours which are associated with the intraprenuer which are likely to not just aid the successful sales person, but to propel them to even greater achievements.
The role of the sales professional is no longer one-dimensional.
That time has gone.
So to a large extent, success requires the sales person to manage greater complexity – multiple projects at any one time – before demonstrating the ability to develop each of the areas above.
Therefore the modern sales professional is a project manager, a people manager, a business owner and a sales person.
For the first time in history, the sales person is more important than the product. That’s really important so I’ll say it again. The sales person is more important than the product.
Through their efforts, they can bring people together, take responsibility, are outcome focused, commercially savvy, they guide the customer journey and they think in terms of possibilities.
This is Intraprenuership.
And in our modern selling environment there is a rise to the top for those who can live out these characteristics daily.
To take the intrapreneur test, download the latest copy of Beyond Target for free at http://beyondtarget.com