How Google’s sales team discovered their purpose

This is the story of how a sales team of Google searched for their purpose. Before moving on though, let me explain why I selected this case study.

The company mission statement myth

There is this myth that if my company has a purpose statement or a mission statement, my team doesn’t need a purpose.

The problem with company-wide purpose statements is that these statements need to accommodate for everyone across the enterprise. When you spread your net that wide, naturally, these statements are going to be abstract. Don’t get me wrong. Company purpose statements are necessary. They inspire us. They give us a sense of direction. However, when it comes to day-to-day stuff, they cannot provide the clarity you need. Company purpose statements simply cannot be relevant at at micro level of a team.

Let me give you an example.

Google’s mission statement is:

to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

As Lisa Earle McLeod explains in her book, Selling with Noble Purpose:

Google’s mission is real and powerful. Yet it still needs to be translated for sales - particularly for the B2B salespeople who sell advertising to major corporations such as Home Depot and Nordstrom.

Before the sales team defined their purpose, even top sales performers were frustrated with one saying:

I’m passionate about our mission statement, but it’s easy to think of myself as just the money person — the one who delivers the sales so everyone else can achieve the mission.

Realizing this dissatisfaction, this sales team at Google reinterpreted their mission statement. They translated it into a purpose statement focusing on the individual business customer:

To help organize our clients’ information and make it universally accessible and useful.

This slight tweak creates clarity by focusing the sales team from the world’s information to the individual client’s. The team members now have clarity on the difference they make for each customer everyday.

How the Google sales team discovered their purpose

In her book, Lisa explains the process she uses with clients including Google. Here’s a summary.

A three-part process

The purpose creation purpose of Lisa has three parts:

  • How do you make a difference to your customers?
  • How are you different from competitors?
  • On your best day, what do you love about your job?

After exploring these three questions, look for keywords and key themes which are concrete and compelling to you. Refer to these as you brainstorm and write down variations of your purpose statement.

Sit on it

Before selecting the final statement, sit on it for a week. When you revisit your ideas, ask others for feedback to get another perspective. Finally, look at your ideas and find the ones that excite and inspire your team. If you’d like to learn more about her methods, do check out her book, Selling with Noble Purpose.