The software developer stands in front of his followers, his apostles and espouses a new theory. “Economic conditions, consumer behavior, and technology are changing the industry”, he says. “To thrive, even survive, all of you must change with it. Abandon the old ways and follow me into the future.”
This is a challenging message to deliver because the old way is his way. He revolutionized the industry and became wildly successful. Many of his followers became wealthy, and they’ve preached his truth to their followers and his way is now THE way. His truth THE truth. Skepticism is etched on their faces. “Does he just want us to purchase new software?” they wonder.
Pivoting is hard for the people who believe in you and are committed to your philosophy. The software developer needs a credibility enhancer. He says, “I’m not asking you to buy new software. Software solves nothing. Although it may make it easier to do what you must do, the success of any program relies on people and process. I’m here to teach the new process you and your people will need to thrive in the future state.” And the people line up to buy the new software.
Brad stands in the doorway, hands gripping the frame, while wind and propeller wash buffet him. The ground is 10,000 feet away and Brad is scared.
His first solo jump.
The instructor stands to the side, hand on the cable clamp that ties Brad to the plane. He unbuckles the clamp, leans in close and yells “Go”.
Brad does not go.
His mind wanders back to a time several years ago and a conversation with a woman he loved.
“Hi, Sue, I was thinking about you and was hoping you had time for lunch this week.”
“Brad, I’m getting married.”
Brad and Sue had been on and off since college. The most recent “off” time must have been longer than he realized.
How is that possible?
Brad didn’t ask those questions. He mumbled something about being happy and best wishes and hung up. In Brad’s vision of the future, he had always pictured himself married to Sue. Now Sue was marrying someone else.
Brad felt the sharp stab of regret.
Since then, Brad had moved quicker, committed sooner, and gave of himself more completely.
He took chances.
“Go”, yelled the instructor again.
Brad smiled and he jumped.
Jason spied a parking spot on the next aisle. He turned the corner in time to see a Fiat 500 duck into the space. He rolled up behind it, intent on pointing out the one-way arrows on the asphalt.
Bradley worked his way out of his little car one limb at a time. Fully emerged, he turned to see that someone had pulled up behind him. The driver rolled down his window and Bradley smiled broadly as he recognized Jason.
Jason did a double take at the driver of the Fiat. He hadn’t seen Brad in person in three years.
“I heard you got a new car,” Bradley said loudly, “but that thing looks like an overgrown roller skate.”
Jason slung a backpack over his shoulder and approached Brad’s car.
“Is this a hybrid? It looks like you are singlehandedly arresting climate change,” Jason teased.
The men stared at each other for ten seconds.
Bradley said, “Did you lose weight or are you terminally ill?”
Jason replied, “Go find a place to plug in this POS and let’s get into the meeting.”
As Bradley headed to an open spot, he thought, “F*ck*ng Jason. Man, it was good to see him.”
Usually, a “discipline” is associated with a scholastic subject area or college department. A discipline incorporates expertise, people, communities, challenges, studies and research areas. Individuals associated with academic disciplines are commonly referred to as experts or specialists. So, too, are those associated with professional disciplines, such as medicine, law and sales.
What’s this?! “Sales” in the same category as medicine and law. Yes, for some. Not most sales people, of course. Most of us ended up in sales because we didn’t study something specific in college, like engineering or accounting. An estimated 40% of the workforce is in sales in some capacity. That’s a lot of people, most of who just kind of fell into it. However, there is a select group for whom sales is a discipline. They study it, research it and work on it. They belong to communities of sellers and they seek to become experts and specialists.
These are the “A” players - the President’s Club winners. These sellers are proud of their profession and they treat it with respect. They believe they can improve performance by challenging themselves. They enjoy the rewards but for them it’s about the work. For them, it’s about the discipline.
The last seven pounds are stubborn. Well, truthfully, they are the only seven pounds I’m trying to lose. So, I found myself jogging while my son practiced soccer. Moving pretty slowly, another big guy caught up to me and said:
“How’s it going.”
I said, “I’m dying here.”
“Looks to me like you’re getting after it,” he replied.
“Does it? I don’t know. I’m struggling. I’m surprised it’s this hard.”
“It’s only hard because you took some time off. You’re doing great.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it. Just trying to lose a little weight.”
“Forget that. You look like an athlete. I can see it. Maybe you’ve got a little bit extra right now but there’s definitely an athlete in there.”
I picked up my pace a little to keep up with my new friend. Hell, my new best friend.
“You know what, he’s right,” I said to myself. “I am an athlete. Always have been. No reason not to still be one. I’ll bet if I keep this up, I could run a 5k . . . no, a 10k, no problem.”
I was just about to tell him that I appreciate the pep talk, when I notice – I’m alone.
“Hey, Big Time Tim, it’s Dave”
“Oh, hey, Dave. Yeah, I see it’s you cuz your name is on my screen. You know . . . technology.”
“Oh, okay, and you picked up anyway. That’s nice.”
“Sure, well, you know, I don’t have a lot going on today so. . .”
“(Laughing) I appreciate you making time for me.”
“Right, so is there anything you wanted or are you just trying to drag me down to your level?
“I just wanted to make sure you didn’t forget about me.”
“How can I forget about you? You are crushing it this month.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah, well not just me but your name came up in the manager’s meeting the other day.”
“Really, what were they saying?”
“They were saying if we could get you to work at least four days a week we might start getting a return on our investment.”
“(Laughing) Well, it does get tiring out here in the field.”
“Yeah, at least it does the way you’re doing it.”
“Which way is that Big Time?”
“Very well, Dave. Keep up the good work.”
“You’re welcome, buddy. Talk to you soon.”
“Yup, talk to you soon.”
When my home phone rang, it startled me. Not that I was deep in thought, it’s just that it doesn’t usually ring. I answered.
At first, I thought it was a robocall because no one spoke after my greeting, but then I could hear the person on the other end breathing so I said, “Hello” again.
This time there was a small “hello” from the caller. A man, I could tell. I waited as one might when it seems like it’s still the other person’s turn to speak and he said,
“I didn’t know who else to call.”
“I’m sorry. Do we know each other?”
“No. This was my home phone number when I was a kid.”
Perplexed, I said, “Okay. Why are you calling?”
“My Mom died.”
“Oh no. I’m very sorry.”
“She was in an automobile accident. We hadn’t seen other each for a while. You know, I have a wife and kids and you just get caught up.”
“She was a great Mom. Always there for me even when I wasn’t for her.”
“That’s what Moms do.”
“I didn’t tell her.”
“I’m sure she knew.”
“Yes. Maybe. I hope so. Thanks for listening.”
I raised a champagne flute and wondered at the most beautiful woman in the world. She offered a smile. Shattering my confidence. Stealing my breath.
December 31stnineteen ninety-nine. Prince would have been proud. We celebrated under a banquet tent at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta. The ball had dropped. The countdown concluded.
Our eyes locked as Smash Mouth followed “Auld Lang Syne” with “All Star”, or was it “Walkin’ On the Sun”?
We toasted silently and then I set my glass down on the bar. My left hand found her right hip. Her right hand snaked through my arm and hooked my left shoulder for leverage. She raised on tiptoes for our first kiss of a new year. A new millennium. A new life?
Our lips met.
I closed my eyes.
The tent fell away.
Stars filled my sky and
for one moment, certainty was mine.
The most important sales talents of yesterday aren’t necessarily those of today. In particular, I’m thinking about the role that “persuasion” plays in the process. Persuasion seems to have lost its luster.
Sellers have greater success by discovering the prospect’s point of view before revealing their own. For example:
Seller: “What seasoning do you typically choose on your vegetables?”
Prospect: “I like salt.”
Seller: “Are you worried about the health risks associated with salt?”
Prospect: “Not really, I think they are overstated.”
Should the seller now explain how her seasoning product has all the flavor without the health risks associated with salt? Of course not. The prospect places no value in that benefit.
Sellers who go down this path incorrectly believe the prospect can be persuaded. The process of discovery will still allow this seller an opening that doesn’t require her to persuade the customer to change their opinion.
Seller: “Do you also use salt on meat?”
Prospect: “No, I find that it dries the meat.”
Seller: “Would you be interested in learning about a product that improves the flavor of meat without drying it?”
Prospect: “Of course.”
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