Think of a Super Hero – free of choice: Batman, Superman, Spiderman – or why not Bruce Willis as Super-Cop John McClane in the first Die Hard movie from 1988. They challenge the evil and saves the world from disaster. They overcome dire straits, get into serious trouble, but at the end leaves the rest of us with peace and an astonishing admiration. Many times The Hero him/herself sneaks away, without notice from the crowd.
In Sales, our Super Hero is the sales rep. How many times haven’t I heard those stories about how this man or woman literally saved the whole company. How the Big Order was brought home, regardless of what hurdles there were to pass.
I remember many years ago when the largest company in my hometown (at that time) was struggling to survive. Over 1,000 jobs were at stake. The company was selling large pulp drying systems and it was needed to fill the order books. Luckily, there was a RFP from Indonesia out to go for and the negotiations were to be held on site. It was extremely hot whether and three sales teams on the short list; the Americans, the Germans and our team from Sweden.
The potential customer turned to the sales teams in order, but kept going around with the teams without giving any clues which team that was in pole position for the order. If there would be an order at all. Customer didn’t say much at all. Everything was uncertain. And it was awfully hot. Meetings were fifteen hours per day, the questions were few. Still murdering hot.
The team from German went home after one month – thought nothing would happen anyway. And on site there was less happening than ever before. The heat was really sucking. The American team gave up after one month further – there will never be a contract anyway, better to come back later?
For more than three months the Swedish team stayed before they got the signature on the contract. Back home, the sales manager was interviewed by the local newspaper:
– Congratulations recieving a new order, Mr Sales Manager!
– Orders are not recieved. They are taken.
How many of us are just expecting the same from our sales reps or sales managers? Orders should be recieved, regardless of market conditions, competition, product fit, or timing. Do we really know – in all aspects – what it takes to take – or almost “steal” – orders in extremely though circumstances? I’ve got a long experience as a sales rep by myself, but I think there is not any salesman that is equal.
The role being a Super Hero is highly individual. But there are some key features that remains the same for all:
– Extremely high creativity skills
– Very interested in customer needs
– Huge skills doing “matchmaking” between that need and the products or services that would be delivered (with several twists of course).
Still, I believe we may be able to help him or her. We should be right by their side when they have questions. We should be positive to hear what he/she has going on, leaving encouraging comments, promoting somewhat “crazy” ideas. Nevertheless, those ideas are the next customer need to fulfill. Either we do it or it will be fulfilled by our worst competitior. It’s valuable information for the entire company.
But the best support we can give, are our expert advices, our mentorship. That’s the most valuable for our Super Heros. Would you like to provide that?