We Live in Different Sales Worlds

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I Love a Good Rant

In 1989, Richard Bach released his follow-up book to “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” called “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.” In the book, Bach struggles to learn from his new friend, Donald Shimoda, a man Bach believes is a Messiah who quit the job, but found him – based on some mysterious past connection – to help Bach finally reach enlightenment. In one chapter, Bach makes a comment that we all live in the same world, which leads to an interesting outburst from Shimoda:

“Oh, God, Richard! You’re serious! Cancel the lunch. No hamburger, no malt, no nothing at all! Here I had thought you had reached this major knowing -” He broke off and looked down on me in angry pity. “You’re sure of that. You live in the same world, do you, as… a stockbroker, shall we say? Your life has just been all tumbled and changed, I presume, by the new SEC policy – mandatory review of portfolios with shareholder investment loss more than fifty percent? You live in the same world as a tournament chess player, do you? With the New York Open going on this week Petrosian and Fischer and Browne in Manhattan for a half million-dollar purse, what are you doing in a hayfield in Maitland, Ohio? You with your 1929 Fleet biplane landed on a farm field, with your major life priorities farmers’ permission, people who want ten-minute airplane rides, Kinner aircraft engine maintenance and mortal fear of hailstorms… how many people do you think live in your world? You say four billion people live in your world? Are you standing way down there on the ground and telling me that four billion people do not live in four billion separate worlds, are you going to put that across on me?”

Gotta love a good rant, eh?

Perspective, Prioritization, and Focus

As a young man, much of what Bach wrote in “Illusions” challenged the way I viewed the world and made me think. Yes, we inhabit the same planet. But that’s not what Bach meant, is it? He’s talking about perspective, prioritization and focus.

Today, it reminds me of the worlds we share as sales professionals.

Sales Nuances Shape Our Selling Worlds

I’ve written before about what I call “sales nuances.” You know… B2B vs. B2C, complex selling vs. simple, high-ticket vs. low, inside vs. field or channel, long-cycle vs. short, and more.

I don’t believe we all live in the same world, any more than Bach’s fictional Shimoda did. Stockbrokers, tournament chess players, barnstormers, and Mark Shale clothing consultants, do not live in the same world.

Furthering my point: a B2C life insurance agent, who is responsible for buying or generating her own leads, prospecting, cold-calling, and garnering referrals (or “favorable introductions”) like mad, nesting in CPA offices, cold-calling small business owners, and sitting at kitchen tables until 8 p.m., does not live in the same sales world as a B2B enterprise security software professional, selling million-dollar systems to C-suite executives and senior organizational leaders, bringing insight to bear to capture attention and generate value of the highest order in Fortune 100 corporations. And neither of those live in the world of the channel partner manager, educating, supporting and influencing a distributed network of Value-Added Resellers to maximize airtime and attention to gain an unfair advantage over the competition… who, by the way, is attempting the same thing.

We live in different worlds. Perspective. Prioritization. Focus.

Those Other People

Look, I Know YOU Get It… Why Don’t More “Others” Get It?

Why do so many still seem to believe that the advice we should listen to, is the generic “sales is sales is sales” stuff, that is published from so many sources daily without regard for nuance? Why are we still buying off-the-shelf training programs, and thinking they’ll make a difference? Why do we think that top sales people everywhere should be Challengers or sell with insight? For that matter, why do we even believe that the same sales processes and methodologies should be used across all product sets, channels, buyer personas, and types of sales (transactional vs. consultative and across inside, field, and channel)?

Beats me. Do you have an answer to that one? I think perhaps because it’s easier. How sad. Because it certainly isn’t as effective. And in fairness to those who get it… I fully realize that not everyone succumbs to the lure of “sales is sales is sales.”

I heard at the Forrester Sales Enablement Forum recently that we should simplify. I agree with that, and also agree with Einstein on this one. We should simplify things. We should make them as simple as possible… but NO SIMPLER. This requires perspective, prioritization, and focus, of course, but it also requires a tolerance for and the ability to sort through details and complexity, to know what to simplify… and what you can’t, or shouldn’t. Real life is messy.  And sometimes, complex.

Next, No Waiting

Coming soon, I’ll be ranting about the difference between what we know and what we do… perhaps why American Airlines trains flight attendants for 13 weeks but most companies onboard their new sales reps in a week or want 2 or 3-day event-based sales training classes. Or, why, knowing what we do about how people learn, we still cram 10 pounds of learning in a 5 pound course, or why “learning systems” are so rare, yet we know that learning in a process? All of these mysteries and more will be tackled. But I will promise you this…. I won’t treat you like we all live in the same world.

Questions for You

  1. What world do you or your reps live in? What is your perspective, prioritization and focus?
  2. What have you been able to simplify?
  3. What complexities have you learned that you must just deal with, to get results?
  4. What are you doing to better understand and capitalize or leverage the nuances, and what produces sales results in your business?
  5. How are you customizing sales and marketing solutions and aligning your company to truly serve your Target Companies, Buyer Personas, and their Buying Processes?

I’d love to hear, if you’d like to share.

Be safe out there, and by all means, let’s continue to elevate our sales profession.


Mike Kunkle
Transforming Sales Results with Clear Insight & Focused Execution

<mike at mikekunkle dotcom>

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Mike Kunkle

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