The Pipeline Guest Post – John Cousineau
Peter Nicholson, Chair of the Council of Canadian Acadamies, notes that as we’ve become information rich, we’ve become so attention poor that there’s been an erosion of the deep, integrative, learning that can only come from honing craftsmanship with 10,000 hours of focused effort. What’s required, in his view, is a more balanced tradeoff between the depth of what we know and the speed with which we can retrieve it. This, in turn, will require creating new ways of interacting with information and colleagues that create a ‘peripheral intellectual vision’ with which deep insights can accrue. It’s something, in my view, buyers are looking for + sales superstars know how to deliver.
Nicholson’s points reminded me of what Jill Konrath cited in a podcast a couple of years ago as the key thing which she felt sales people needed to do more of – THINK. This idea ties directly back to the literature on craftsmanship. As Sennet notes, with craftsmen work has stages and sequences that allow them to pause + reflect on what they’re doing. This allows them to judge while doing. It creates greater satisfaction, and more personal ownership, in what’s accomplished from what’s done.
While it’s important, as in any craft, that sales people own their own skills, efforts, and accomplishments, it’s equally important to break the cycle of missed opportunities to lift others onto the top rung. In Malcolm Gladwell’s view, “there’s a tendency to prematurely write off people as failures; we are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail.” Enough of this madness.
Some of our clients’ most profound advances in B2B sales productivity occur when sales people attack the scarcity of their prospects’ attention with deep insights. Such sales people create significant value for their prospects by creating a vision of the possible. Doing so gains their prospects’ attention. With feedback on buyer actions confirming the value of Reps’ efforts to create value, Reps do it over and over again. Creating deep insights becomes habitual.
Reps’ methods for producing insights are learned through feedback, hours of practice, and creative habits. Those habits include: working hard, rituals of preparation, scratching with a child-like curiosity in an unending hunt for good ideas, building failure into the process (it has to happen for good ideas to emerge), feedback that makes it possible to see and acknowledge ruts, perfecting practice, and making their own luck by how practiced they are.
In my view, it’s time to organize sales work in ways which hone craftsmanship, incrementally improve sales skills, and empower sales people to pursue their full potential for sales superstar-dom. Let’s let 2011 be a year of learning differently. A year in which the craft of sales gains craftsmanship.
About John Cousineau
John Cousineau is Founder + President of INNOVATIVE INFORMATION INC. John has spent 30+ years leading operations research teams, with a focus on helping companies get more value more quickly from their day-to-day business processes. He’s known for creating informed business innovations from clever uses of information + technology.