Sales Executives: Purpose & Burnout
Episode 90 - Purpose, burnout, building partnerships, and the post-pandemic environment - with Peta Sitcheff
I believe that two of the most transferable skills are management and sales. Still, professionals turn their noses to both. Management has been superseded by leadership. However, it’s so much easier to explain management experience than leadership style or outcomes. As for sales, so many corporate professionals opt out of sales jobs, not understanding that, as business growth professionals, sales executives are a much needed and indispensable group than their counterparts in business support functions.
About our guest, Peta Sitcheff
Today, Peta inspires teams & grows business. As a consultant, she chooses to work with clients who would benefit most from her Sales leadership, supporting organizations to discover opportunities in unchartered waters & sales professionals to be courageous. You can connect with Peta on her Instagram or LinkedIn.
Peta Sitcheff started her career selling Viagra, moved on to medical devices. Working in ICUs, burns units, operating rooms helped her become an expert in working in extraordinarily stressful environments and building important partnerships. She is now a consultant helping sales professionals and businesses transform their sales proposition to enable successful commercial growth and trusting client relationships.
Peta wrote a book to share her experience with burnout. Her book is a fantastic read, which I recommend if you enjoy inspirational personal stories and like to learn: at the end of each chapter, there's a list of great books and articles you can read to learn more about the topic she just tackled.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Timestamps to guide your listening
08:23 - Peta starts selling Viagra
16:44 - Can Peta transfer her skills: Renata brainstorms other industries for Peta
19:08 - Peta never uses the word sales. Peta is in partnership and commercial growth.
24:29 - When salespeople help professionals learn and innovate
27:19 - When salespeople need to rethink their purpose: The short term purpose of sales KPIs
28:34 - When sales pay so well, it’s hard to leave: Peta burns out
40:10 - Sales professionals impacted by the pandemic
45:13 - Sales = Commercial Growth
47:42 - Strengths: Be careful what you’re good at
Transcript of this episode
Renata: Rarely did I read a nonfiction book. That's unputdownable. Have you read that? And then fiction book that feels like fiction, and you want the protagonist to win, and you want the protagonist to do better and feel better. And it's just that kind of book that I'm talking about today. It's, [inaudible] my beautiful mess. And it's about her time working in sales and what it did to her and how it made her an amazing professional, but also burnt her out and what she did then to overcome that transition and be successful in the next stage of her career. I've often found that management and sales are possibly the two most transferable skills that professionals have. However, they tend to and are noses to those great transferable skills management has been superseded by leadership. We tend to use leadership everywhere in our resumes, in our LinkedIn profiles, and in how we talk about ourselves.
Renata: But management is so much easier to explain, have you managed teams, projects? How big, how much, you know, what budget, and so on. And sales is such a great transferable skill that adds to the company's growth and achieves KPIs. And it's such a commercial and great way to operate in the corporate sector. However, people often tell me I need marketing, but I don't make sales, or I am a, you know, an executive, but I don't like to working sales opting out of sales is, in my view, a big mistake. And I'd love to, hopefully, work with clients that want to work in sales. So when I heard Peta speak recently, I immediately invited her to be a guest on my podcast. She is a sales coach, helping businesses and professionals build great partnerships, grow commercially, and become more purposeful. And she is such a holistic professional and coach.
Renata: And I'm so interested in her as a person after reading her book. So she sent me her book, my beautiful mess, which I just finished writing. And she has a promotion for you. So if you want the book, we have a cold in the episode show notes for you to use at checkout. I completely totally this book for everybody, even if you're not nodding sales, because it's about her career transition and what she went through actually to get to the other side. And it's a great story for starters and a great reference book because she provides so many other books for you to refer to after the end of each of her chapters. She will give you a list of books that you can go and buy or read or articles that you can read to progress your learning on that specific topic.
Renata: So it is a great read. I found it super easy to read. I read it in just a couple of seatings, frankly, because not because I had to interview her for the podcast, but because it was so, so good. And right at the beginning, the first chapter just blew my mind. I was not expecting how it ended, and it just became almost like a fiction book. I just wanted to know what happened to her. It was so, so interesting.
Renata: In this episode, we will talk about sales, or as Petter likes to call it, a relationship-building partnership, building commercially growing businesses. She is. She often references this in the interview. She is quite particular about not using that word because of the stigma around it, as I mentioned before, but this is also an episode for everybody who works in a very competitive industry for people who work in different types of sales. These people build relationships for a bill, for a living that works with very long-term sales cycles, and work for high-performance teams.
Renata: And that has work in industries where the stakes are high. There's a very high risk, and it's a life or death situation. So I think that that would be a great lesson for people interested in those sorts of conversations. Peta does start off selling Viagra. She quickly moved to medical devices and worked with some of the most outstanding spinal surgeons in Australia, being part of their team, attending every surgery, and being instrumental and supporting those surgeries in success. Peta eventually burnt out big time. That's why she wrote her book. Peta often writes also for thriving global. She has several articles on that platform, and you can find them by going to thrive global or going to her LinkedIn account.
Renata: And she has links there to all of those articles. So if you're not getting an entire book at least, read some of those articles. I’ll have a link below in the episode show notes as well. I have a promotion for you, as you know. I love getting reviews for this podcast. So if you liked this episode and you'll want to read Peta's book, please write me a review on whichever platform you found as iTunes is one that I often referenced because it's where I listen to my pod, my podcast. It has a ranking system in a review format that I'm familiar with. But if you're listening to this on another platform, please find a way to write me a review and send it to me. And, you can DM me. You can send me a private message. You can email me. There's always a link to my email in the episode, show notes, also send your address and your email, and for the first three listeners that write me a review, you will get a free copy of Peta's book sent to you. It will be my pleasure to send you a book because I'm sure you're going to love it. So without further ado, here is my interview with the LA lovely Petter. Please enjoy.
Peta: I started working in pharmaceutical sales. My first sales job was with Pfizer pharmaceuticals and fell in Viagra in Southeast Queensland. So that was a very interesting conversation to have, as a female, you know, 20 plus years ago now, selling to all male customers in GPS. I learned very quickly that I had to get over any feeling of intimidation that I may have had, and really take my job seriously and step up professionally and set some boundaries very, very quickly, in terms of, you know, how I wanted to be described by those who I fell to.
Peta: So, from a sales perspective, it wasn't very difficult given it was the first pharmaceutical of its kind on the market. But I, I soon found that pharmaceutical sell in itself wasn't particularly challenging for me. Still, what I learned through the training and the sales training that I had with Pfizer, which was very structured, I to this day carry with me and remember it was brilliant. I stumbled across it, and I talk about this in my book and my story. I then thought, you know, medical devices are the next logical step within this pathway. And I went on to work for a small distributor selling vacuum-assisted wound care products, which was fascinating. And quite, again, there are some stories there in the book, which talk about the type of work I did. So tie end, when care dressings, but, that I felt, and in particular, a lot of the work I did was with burns patients, trauma patients, chronic wounds, the worst of the worst.
Renata: It was a hard chapter for me to read the times I did this, which was ridiculous. Cause there was no visual, but I just couldn't help. But I was putting my eye, my hand in front of my eyes, because it was tough. It was; it must have been so hard for you.
Peta: Yeah. I found it difficult. And as someone who doesn't have any nursing qualifications, it'd be spending all of your time in ICU and around burns patients, particularly in the aftermath of the Bali bombing. That was one of my early awakes in the job. And, that was emotionally incredibly difficult, incredibly difficult for me. I found that hard to deal with, but, certainly learned an enormous amount about myself and an enormous amount about the importance of connecting with people, as well. So, you know, I, I think I learned the lesson from that chapter was a reasonably short chapter. It was a couple of years. Professionally was, I loved that environment. I did love the clinical environment, so that was, you know, another, another lesson learned and another part of my adventure and my exploration and my career journey, and an opportunity became available to go and interview for an organization called Stryker.
Peta: again, a very large global company in the medical device industry, specifically in their spinal prosthesis, is deficient. So yeah, I was successful in getting that role. I held that role as Katie is. And what that role entails essentially was selling spinal prosthesis and computer-assisted navigation solutions, which to your listeners, particularly those who are not in the clinical environment, is probably robotics is the best way to describe it or, be it technically, it is one step away from that. But essentially, I looked after the needs of, of 20th Melbourne spinal surgeons, the spinal needs. So either worked when they worked, when they had a patient who presented that needed spinal surgery that required, for example, screws and rods, you know, to stabilize their spine, that was our equipment. So we would troubleshoot those cases with the surgeon. We would attend every surgery, myself and my team. And we were almost a little bit like the walking, talking instruction manual for our product. It was fascinating. And as you can imagine, patients don't present between nine and five. So it was a role that required me To be on Call and work when the surgeons work, which, throughout my career, really was 24 7. You just had to be available all the time—particularly working in both public and private hospitals.
Renata: I have a friend with lots of screws in his back, and I wondered if you were there.
Peta: Yeah, look, it's a highly competitive industry. Particularly now, back when I started in 2003, it was best. So, but technology has advanced so much now, which is fabulous in that it is, the outcomes are so much better for patients. And, but yet it is a highly competitive industry from a sales perspective. It was really interesting when I first started compared to when I finished 13 years later. You know that competitive pressure was certainly there, and learning how to manage that was an integral part of being successful in the job.
Renata: It's a, it's a different type of sales, the profession is an answer because it's more of, I would call it more of a subscription or a membership or a long-term engagement almost similar to, you know, the sort of relationship that, somebody that takes care of investment solutions for, you know, families or trusts would have to have it is long term. And it means that you get to know your clients well. You work together with them. It’s fascinating. I had never heard of that before. I mean, you kind of know these things happen, but you don't know how the day-to-day of working like that means, and now that I know more, I'm fascinated. So yeah,
Peta: It is really, it's really interesting that you say that Renata because when I left the industry, I deliberately went and sought out work in a different industry, which I chose professional sport. And a part of that was to prove that my prove to myself that my skills were transferable, but also I just needed a break from it. I needed, I just needed, to switch off and not be in a hospital, not have to have my clinical Brian on, and mingle with different people. And as I met latest in or anybody, within different industries that, you know, they've never heard of the organization I worked for, they never knew that the job even existed. And when you're in the industry itself, I mean, you would think that everybody would know about it. It was, was a fascinating observation for me.
Peta: So having to describe what I did in a way that people who aren't clinical could understand was something. I found myself doing a lot. And what it also really did was enable me to go back. I, I had to describe or had to understand what value I could offer. So diving in and unpicking that role and soon realizing that you know, it was an education in life that had been doing that role. You know, you're working from a sales perspective. You know, you're D you have to, you have to be able to connect and develop trust very quickly and trusted partnerships very quickly. You have to be able to manage The clinical environment of the operating room and everything that entails, which is a very unusual environment to work with him.
Renata: If you had been a client of mine, back in the day, and you were helping to leave that industry, some clients, in fact, after, especially because of lockdown and the pandemic, their industries have disappeared. Like there's nothing there. So if you come to me and you weren't, you know, I mean, you were keen to kind of focus on the strengths and the transferable skills, I would have probably brainstormed with you ideas such as, okay. Have you considered working in the financial sector in this sort of investment, portfolios managing those because people may not like what I'm going to say? You are probably very good at dealing with narcissists.
Renata: I say this because I have many doctors and surgeons in my family, so I can say this with knowledge and hopefully my uncles and, you know, people in my family. But you know what I mean like these are tough personalities to work with. They're a perfectionist as well. There's very little room for error. And when you're dealing with multibillionaires, and they have the sort of finances that need to be managed a certain way, that relationship is all going sometimes also, you know if they're looking at philanthropic endeavors or social enterprises, or, you know, thinking about ethical investments, they need to trust the person they're talking to, and you are the go-between. So there, there is an important relationship there that needs to be managed over time. And at times, it would bring in the tech experts, the actual, you know, behind-the-scenes guys or women that make all the investments to that meeting, but that relationship needs to be managed carefully and tactfully. And you would probably be suitable for that. Yeah, long-term memberships you, places that have professional or industry associations that are members for a long time that have lots of political policy interests that they need to preserve and lobby for you would be good for those things as well. I'm like, and I couldn't place her in a whole bunch of different things.
Peta: Do you know? It's, yeah, it's really interesting. I quite a bit that Springs to mind. I mean, you used the word very earlier at the beginning of our recording here around partnership. And I very rarely, if ever I was asked what I did, I would say I'm in sales because it just didn't do the job justice. And, you know, the linchpin of success in a role, like I used to do, is around the partnership you developed, and you're right. I mean, you are dealing with very complex personalities in a very unusual working environment, but also, you're dealing with individuals and not just the surgeon. I mean, there's their entire team there. And when you see them work together like a well-oiled machine, it is quite an incredible watch. It is a high-performance team, which is one reason why what happens in an operating room is often likened to a professional sporting environment or the cockpit of a commercial airline, or for example, The way They work and the risks they're dealing with are the vulnerable patients, who it is that they, that they are operating on.
Peta: But you're dealing with those personalities in time sometimes, or occasionally in times of extreme stress. So it's not just the complexity of the personality. It's you think about yourself? You know the situations or when you were last, your last time you were incredibly stressed and how you reacted and, you know, and you think about what's at stake. So, you know, take that in the operating room environment. You’re still having to work through an operation and understand what's in front of you and anticipate what's going to happen next. And to be able to service this, this, this case as we used to call them up or surgery, and stay very focused on what you were doing. And that's where I referred to earlier about education in life. I mean, you do. You build resilience, build the communication skills, you know, your ex, you're working in an environment where you can't touch anything.
Peta: So everything you do must be how you articulate, or us to be through articulation. So it's a really interesting environment to work in, but to your point is I think, you know, what I'd learned very quickly was if everybody in that room is on a level playing field, if everybody, at the end of the day, regardless of your title is a human being. And I think the sooner that I realized, as soon as I realized that and the intimidation or the fear sort of melted away, that's when I started to form great partnerships with people. And I think that's the same across all industries and all businesses to remember that you know, regardless of the title, regardless of the personality you're dealing with at the end of the day, a human is under all of that or beneath all of that, who is a part of nature, like any one of us, and, you know, I think that's something that we all lose sight of, very, very quickly. And it's not. It’s not given the importance or the emphasis or coached as much as it should be.
Renata: Yeah, that's so interesting because, I agree, and I think that that's, you know, as somebody who also worked in business development and relationship management sales, I feel like I, I have, but the funny thing about it is I'm not from Australia. So at the beginning of my career in Australia, I would meet important people and not have any idea who they were. I had no option but to treat them exactly as I would treat anybody else. And I remember walking out of a meeting, one day with my manager, and she was so flustered, and I'm like, what's going on? And she said, do you know who we just met? And I'm like, no. We went, we knew Holies, you know, oh, it's such and such. And that, and you were so calm. And I said, yes, it's because I have no idea what you're talking about. So it helped me form those partnerships and engage well with people because I didn't have any jitters or nervousness about the meeting.
Peta: It's interesting. A number of the friends now who are specialists or medical specialists and, you know, often say to me, no one ever talks to me the way you do. Am I like it? I'm like, well, I'm not going to tell you how good you're up to because that's not who I am as a person. I'm a curious person. I'd like to understand you and the person you are behind, you know, the title, the popular name, or whatever it might be, but much more important to me. And the connection that we can build as opposed to what you do is who you are.
Renata: But I think another, another sort of, a shadow that's always, you know, waiting on people in sales is the fact that so much of their income comes from bonuses and the KPIs that they need to meet. And that can sometimes translate into the way that they relate with people. You can almost tell that they're desperate or haven't met the KPIs that they want that says on it. And it translates in the way that they speak. It translates into their body language. I wonder if you have dealt with that as a coach or professional, and how do you manage that? Because it must be hard.
Peta: Yeah. Yeah. It's, it is really difficult. And I think what's difficult is you're trying to infect one of them. He was the past president of the organization I used to work for. And he wrote a beautiful testimonial about the book, which I posted on my website. And he said, you know, as a salesperson within the medical device industry, for example, you're juggling the clinical needs. You were juggling the personalities, that process in building a partnership, but you're also juggling the corporate demands behind you and the targets you have to hit. And I've thought about this a lot since, since I've left the industry and I, as much as I was focused on the number and I knew the run rate that I had to hit and, I don't think it influenced, I don't, I very rarely let it influence my day to day activity in terms of how I sold.
Peta: if that makes sense. I wanted to keep coming back to what was most important to me: how my customers would describe me and my integrity in the role. So if I could understand and focus on the partnership that I was creating, and if I did that well, a very big part of what we did in the role was educating surgeons in the evolution of new technology. So when they would be an innovation, with our technology, I, one of the things I routinely did or exercised I routinely did, was texted to the United States. We would observe that new technology in the hands of another surgeon over there, and then we'd go on and do a workshop. In this category workshop, they could play with it within that environment. We’d come back to Australia. And then when the technology was available, yeah, we would integrate that into their operating room and train their team.
Peta: That was a really big part of what I did. And that's the way the surgeons learned new techniques through innovation was through industry, was through us. So developing that Touch ship and doing that well, I always found that if I focused on that, the numbers are a by-product, the numbers would come the moment that I think the moment that I would start to think otherwise, it would be the moment I would say to myself now. And it didn't happen to me at the time within the industry. But I think now, and what I had said, the people I coached, the moment that that's happening, I think you've got to dive a little bit deeper and unpack exactly what it is. You're making a sense of purpose behind what you're doing and where it is you're going. And maybe ask yourself a few questions, am I in the right place right now? Or is this the right role for me, or am I tackling it the right way? If we're too focused on the transaction and too focused on hitting the number and getting the sales through and the purchase orders through, by the end of the month, we lose sight of what we represent. And we at the detriment often of the partnerships that we're trying to build, yes.
Renata: It comes from the fact that you also in your book describes yourself as an endurance, like a marathon athlete, rather than a sprinter. And I, you know, I could relate to that as well because the short term is of some of KPI's and we talk about politics a lot. Politicians being very short-term-minded, but CEOs and the way that, you know, shares and shareholders pressure organizations to do things in a certain way that might not be good, sustainable in the long term. We, we need to start shifting our minds. Suppose it needs to be from the ground up from people like you speaking up and acting the way you do, training others to be like you. In that case, I think that that certainly helps. Another thing that, really is, a challenge for professionals like you is coming out of that industry and having to cope with potentially a lower income, which you discussed in your book as well.
Renata: I, I'm very interested to know how you overcame that. I have a short workshop that people can do on-demand. It's called reset your career, and it's called reset your career for that reason. You know, it's not just about changing professions or taking your career in a different direction. It's considering what lifestyle you will need to adopt a budget to take you from. Let's say being a high-performing professional that has, you know, an income that is, you know, X times three to being a very potentially happier professional with a more flexible lifestyle with an income. That's one-third of that. So making those adjustments is important. How did you leave your profession? Tell us how, okay.
Peta: well, look in the end, I, and I guess a little bit of backstory, which is exactly what my book is about. I left my profession, and I’m a single mum. And I, I left my profession because I burnt out. And I realized throughout this, probably the 12 months before resigning, that what I was doing was not working. And until I made a change, it was going to continue not working. And it was going to get worse, which it did. And I found myself getting the point of, just, I hit a particular point where I physically couldn't Go to Work, and it would physically make it. A particular day came to mind when I was sitting in my car, and I went to work and couldn't. I was physically ill.
Peta: I couldn't stop shaking. I couldn't stop crying. I just had this discernible reaction to trying to make myself do something that was no longer serving me well, and it's not that I didn't enjoy parts of the job. I loved my job, or I wouldn't have done it for that long. It was a great fit for me as a person for a very long time, but for several reasons that, that I explained, you know, and I hold myself entirely accountable for as well. It wasn't serving me well, and it wasn't serving my son well anymore. So leaving for me was something that, in the end, I probably didn't have a choice. You know, it was the only option. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but something I always said to myself was, and I've said this to myself for years that, you know, working within the industry, this is my one time at this gig.
Peta: I'm going to do it well. And, and then that will be, I will be moving on from the industry in that particular role, rather than moving to another similar role with a different company or what have you that just of interest to me at the time. So I moved on because I burnt out. And it was very difficult to move on, both emotionally, mentally. It wasn't easy for my organization at the time, Ava. And you know, I spent quite a bit of time took some long service leave, to see whether or not at the end of that period I was in, with benefit applies to come back to work. And I decided during that time that that intuitive feeling I had that this wasn't right, it was still not right.
Peta: So it was great to have the break, and it was probably a bit of a softer landing. But how I felt that I had that didn't change. During that time, I realized that before I went on long service leave, I resigned from my role in particular. So the agreement I had with the organization was if I stayed with the organization, I wouldn't have to go back into that role. So I was able, from a market perspective, was able to resign. I was able to cycle bottom customers. They knew that I was tying a bow around that chapter, and I would not be back. And, it was very much from the feedback that I received and the sentiments I received from them. Afterward, that made me think, gosh if I've been if this is the value I've been offering other people, number one, I wish I knew this years ago.
Peta: If this is what I've been teaching, other people, maybe there's something in this, maybe there's something I can do with this. And that became my neck rabbit, Warren of curiosity, that I drove down and started exploring. And then, you know, found a real passion for creating the content, using the wisdom that had developed over my years of experience. And also a real passion for coaching and just wanting to give back and to help people. I think you know, to find myself to go back to your original question, financially being able to go on leave for a few months with a slightly softer landing pad, Was incredibly difficult. I'm not going to lie. It was incredibly difficult and, there were a lot of lessons that I learned about myself during this time. Number one was I. There was a lot about me, and I didn't need them, my style that I thought I needed.
Peta: I thought that's what made me happy, but I realized that one of the reasons I burnt out was I'd lost sight of who I was, and I'd lost that connection with myself, and I'd lost. I was a miss. I wasn't happy for such a long time. I had not been happy and taking the time to work through that. I worked through that with the wonderful psychologist and, who I still stay with every month checking now; taking the time to work through that and understand what makes me happy made me realize that I didn't need a lifestyle. I thought I did. and that all of a sudden becomes it all of a sudden what I needed became a lot less expensive.
Peta: it's really interesting. I think it's, you know, people say, there's that saying, if you can have it all, but not at the same, same time. And I think that a lot of that comes down to our definition of having it all? Yeah, I think that's important. So there's been an enormous shift for me, as you can probably tell on your listeners will tell in terms of what is important to me as a person and what makes me happy. And that's because I feel like the best time in my early forties, I understood myself. And I was able to answer that question.
Renata: I love the forties. I'm so happy in my forties as well.
Peta: They are so great. I never expected them to be so great. So much more comfortable in myself, so much more, not caring. What other people think
Renata: What to say about your 40? So if you know, I'm a mother, like you, the kids are more grown-up. Well, my kids are adults now, but you're, as the teenager, you have more time to reflect. And you're not on such a steep learning curve. Career-wise, you've learned things, and you can look back and think, do I like what I've done, or do I want to move on? And it's the opportunity to reset? Isn't it? It’s an opportunity to think, okay, I'm in my forties now. Do I want this for the rest of my career? Or if yes, then, okay, let's do it. Let's sink our teeth into it. But if no, then it is the time to make a big, bold change and, you know, still sink your teeth into something else.
Peta: And I, you know, I think that you know, when I started my coaching business, I was, you know, like anyone who starts their own business have been all of a sudden, you've got all of that pressure on yourself. And it was just really, you know, I was back creating, I was back building something, which is what I'd done previously, but this time it was my own, and the product and service were different. And, I put, you know, if I just apply the same principles here, it'll work. The hardest part is understanding me, my value, and then What price to put on that, I guess, in a way, but just focusing on those fundamentals and Building those partnerships and keeping, you know, being curious about, you know, what I was interested in being very clear on my professional purpose. And now making sure I leave, you know, daily by that were important to me and, in the money, the money just follows.
Peta: Yeah. You know, it's that byproduct again. So it's really interesting. And I think there's an element of, if you are going to take a break like that, like what I read, I mean, would I have done it differently? I don't know, but I think it's really important to address the practicalities and be mindful that it can be incredibly debilitating if you haven't been under financial stress before. Yes. And I think there needs to be an element of you preparing yourself for that or to prevent that from happening. So that's from the practical sense. And then from the emotional sense that, you know, there's no, no one, there's no one that's there's, there's no rule that says that you're not going to wear in that sort of money again in a different way. And what makes you happy can change, and what you need can change like your life changes life isn't, we're not designed to be static individuals in the one place we're designed to evolve, and we're designed to grow constantly. And I think you need to have a little bit of faith in yourself for that, and we need to surround ourselves with the right support and resources to help us do that as well, to make those transitions in our career.
Renata: Yes, no, that's such a good point. And, by the time we released this episode, I would have already released an episode where I talk about leaving your job and how to step out of a job without making things worse. I see many other professionals and professional coaches sometimes insisting, you know, the five reasons why it's the time to leave your job. You know, there's like catchy phrases for and headlines for, for articles that are, I think are so, icky because you, you know, this now, once you step into the unknown, which is, you know, leaving your professional, status and gravitas and stepping into something new, it, you don't know how long it will take for you to reach the end of that tunnel. In theory, you know, in your mind, you think, oh, I'll get something else in three months.
Renata: But if you were very debilitated and exhausted, or if you're reconsidering where you want to land, if you don't have a clear path, it could be months. It could be more than a year. It could be a long time. So I recorded this episode, and it will be out by the time this one is out. So I'll link below where you can find it if anyone is interested in listening to it because ideally, you want to bootstrap yourself so that by the time you leave, that financial stress doesn't compound on the other stresses you already have an important one. Still, now that you, helping other professionals, I mean, we are in this very unique, surreal, even situation in 2021 where we thought we would be out of luck down in Melbourne. As we record this, we're just coming out of lockdown today.
Renata: kind of feel, yes, we still have the pandemic going. We still have, you know, traveling issues. We can't go overseas to Australia. How does that affect sales professionals in this new virtual world, where most people work from home? I know my husband who has, a profession that includes seeing clients. He has been told not to see clients only liaise with his clients online. He cannot go and see them. And in fact, he doesn't think that there would be anyone there if he went to the offices. So it's a new world. Has the, has sales professionals kind of adapted to that and has that, has this impacted sales in any way?
Peta: Absolutely. Oh boy. Yeah, it has. I think we have to find a different way of working. And I guess, for me, I like I said earlier, I, I never used the word sales. I used the words partnerships, partnerships, and commercial growth. I think that it's a nice way of it. It removes the stigma. When I'm working, I find that I do quite a bit of work with clinicians who need to grow businesses. And, it's important. I quickly learned that it was important to remove that stigma associated with sales or the feeling that you're asking somebody for money. So I like to talk about partnership concerning the changes that the pendant and make has done. I think we have to accept that this is just, this is our new reality, and we don't know how long it's going to go for.
Peta: So we have to find ways to make it work and generate commercial growth. They’ll touch it and generate commercial growth. I think it can be very difficult, yes. To go out and to prospects in this type of environment. However, if we focus more on a couple of things, we focus on the opportunity this market disruption provides. We realize that we all have to change needs, and we're all in this together. And are there opportunities for us to collaborate and work together to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome? I think this is one way of looking at it. Number two, I think, the commercial growth strategy of customer experiences never been more important and looking after your core group of customers you have at the moment and how you can, you can, can grow your business based on that particular core group and based on their changing needs at the moment, because the reality is, is we've all got all of our needs changed in the way that we work, we deliver. So, so rather than, you know, has this environment changed sales? Yes. To answer your question, I believe it has not been delayed that focusing on growth strategy instead of selling transactions helps us think outside of the box. Suppose we keep trying to do things the way we used to previously, it's going to be very difficult. So I think we need to think differently about it.
Renata: What does it mean to focus on growth strategies instead of sales transactions? What, how is that a mindset shift, or are there sort of real, tangible things that you can do to activate that?
Peta: so I guess what I talk about when I talk about growth strategy is the pandemic provides a really interesting, provided an interesting environment last year when we were in stage four downs here in Victoria, you know, you're working in an environment where most of these were close to earlier, and as we couldn't go out and we couldn't see people, and all of a sudden if your growth strategy was to go out there and to prospect in new markets, it was very, very difficult to do that. Now, if you had a business that was lucky enough to be able to keep operating, I think you had to all of a sudden adjust your focus for a certain amount of time. In any case, you had to adjust your focus to what it was that you could control, which was for example, as I've mentioned earlier, that that experience that the customer experience that you were providing, those customers that you had, that was something that you can control.
Peta: And that's a strategy that grows business as opposed to going out and pursuing a new market, or, you know, acquiring another product or, you know, innovating, or innovation at the time, which just might not have been possible or might no longer have been relevant, given the changes that we've had now environment. So I think, from a growth strategy perspective are there are lots of different ways we can generate commercial growth. And I think that's what we had to be creative about. I mean, the outcome or generating commercial growth will be sales, but if we spend our time focusing on the outcome, I think we get increasingly frustrated. Whereas if we focus on the journey to get there and we focus on the process of growth, we're also at the same time and often without realizing it, you know, we're tapping into, to growing within ourselves as well in doing that, you know, whether that's us, ourselves, or organizations arming themselves with the CA the diverse thinking and the capability to be able to do that and to think differently. I think it's really important has been demonstrated the importance has been demonstrated over the environment, changed the environment in the past, by speeding up.
Renata: Yeah. I want to go into the idea of strengths in professional success. And there is a chapter or more than one in your book where you feel very conflicted about your strengths because it felt like they were guiding you instead of the other way around. I had never thought of that. Personally, I, I always seen strengths as something positive, but I completely got what you were trying to say. It's almost like you have to be careful what you're good at, isn't it? Yeah. It may be, you'd be, might, might be drifting away believing in that too much and losing your purpose. So that's the mix between purpose and strengths that I thought was interesting when I read your book. How, how is your relationship with your strengths now? Are they still the same, or do you think that your disruption in your career in your life has been so great that you might have different strengths?
Peta: It's so interesting that you bring this up, and I've thought about this a lot for a long time. I felt as though my strengths were very much emphasized and were used within the organization that I used to work for. And I felt like in some ways they, they, restricted me, I guess or pigeonholed me. And that was frustrating. I don't know whether or not that's a fact. That’s just my perception and how it made me feel. And I went through such a change in leaving that job and changing that environment that I raised that, that same strength assessment, and they were different.
Peta: And that was fascinating because my understanding was that maybe the organization that does the strength assessment says that you need to have a pretty major shift in your life for your strengths to change. And, I certainly had that shift. It was the same, the same test, that a different top five. And it was a relief-like, and, you know, because I feel like such a different, I'm the same person, but there are parts of me that feel so different now I'm working in it.
Renata: Tell us what the biggest shift was. What was the biggest shift between the one you did before your career transition? And now,
Peta: Yes. So, you know, discipline strategy, focus, achiever, where, you know, right up there in my top five, constantly, and which for me felt, I now associate that rightly or wrongly. I, I associate that with a very strict regimented robotic type of existence. And that's, that's the association that I made, now that I almost strengthened that worked for me and they continue to work for me, you know, in many ways I can see that now. However, the new assessment and the different strengths reflected creativity and ideation, and, you know, relating to people and connecting. And that, for me, as I said, was just such a relief because I feel as though in the past few years, I have been able to, to off identified how important creativity is to me.
Peta: and creativity is what helps, is that's where our purpose is derived from. So I understand that now so long as I'm creating, I, I just, that's just such a happy place for, for me to be, you know, in my brain. So that was, for me, a message shift. And how do I use my strengths now? Now, I understand where they fit in the bigger picture, a lot better than what I did previously. Focusing primarily on strengths, I only ever thought these are my strengths, not where they fit in the bigger picture. I thought that was the picture. Whereas, so now I have this phrase, which started, stemmed from a wonderful book. I read by an organizational psychologist called Fiona Murden. Her book is called defining you. And it's like a Bible for me. It’s highlighted and post-it notes everywhere.
Peta: And I love it. But, there were some words that she spoke about in there that formed the basis of the mantra I use today, which are, you know, your purpose is derived from your, Your values and your passions, and it's brought to life through your strengths and your Preferences. And it's realized through the connections we make with others, through learning and giving. And now I've got this picture for myself with purpose and values, strengths and preferences, and the giving, the learning, and the connecting. And I look at that and I, that may is the roadmap, my professional picture now. Yeah,
Renata: Yeah, no, that sounds like a complete sentence. That just makes so much sense. Everybody should get out and have it in a
Peta: Yes. I post that up on my social. So I haven't done that yet. It's sort of a little inspirational tile just for me now, but I will put it out there because I think it's really important. We understand the big picture of purpose is connected with ourselves, and our values are connected with ourselves. We need to understand what we're interested in. When they're looking for a sales role, I often say to people, consider what you're interested in and what you're passionate about because that's the conversation you have every day. And you have to love the conversation you have every day. Otherwise, you won't be in the long haul. And you then understood where my strengths fit into all of that. That's the, you know, that's the delivery method. That's, that's what other people see, but equally, you need to understand what people don't see and what's within you. And you're the only person who can define that.
Renata: Yes, that's so beautiful. I'm glad you shared that with us. Thank you so much for sharing so much wisdom with the podcast and our listeners. I'm going to make sure that if they want to reach out to you that they know where to go, there will be a link below to find out more about Peta's work about her book. If you want to buy the book, I 100% recommend it, and I hope that you are now a friend of the podcast, and maybe you can come back some other time to chat with us again.
Peta: That'd be great. Thanks for having me fabulous.
Renata: Okay. Thank you. Thanks for finding the time. It was wonderful to have you.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, , on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
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