What You Get Paid For Is NOT What You Sell

Had a lunch meeting with a sales exec this past Friday, a prospective client.  A colleague brought us together and it was the first time I’d had contact with the man.  Ever leave a meeting and have this feeling that the other person was somehow different/unique/better in some way, but couldn’t quite put your finger on why?  That’s the feeling I’ve had all weekend and it finally hit me why I felt that way.

Most of my working life is spent with sales managers and pros in the industrial sector.  I consider myself lucky to be able to do so, by the way.  For whatever reason, I’ve always been fascinated by factories and machines and the stunningly complex interwoven processes, systems and logistics that make this industry tick.

There’s a downside though.  Because of that complexity, soooo many sales types get mired in the technical detail.  Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is critically important.  A rep is dead meat without being able to hold his or her own technically.

That’s what made this guy different.  It was crystal clear he knew all his tech specs and the relative pluses and minuses.  What he kept repeating though, was, “It’s all about kW.”  That focus on “kW” is his key to success.

Picture yourself for a minute, as the manager of a beer bottling plant.  You’re focused – duh – on beer stuff.  How many cases/barrels rolled off the line today?  What’s our quality score?  Are our suppliers delivering what we need just in time?  Have we reduced our purchasing costs?  Is everything way more sanitary than the inspectors expect?  Does the freakin’ beer taste great?  And on and on and on with making better beer faster and cheaper.

Then in walks Dean with his “kW” speech.  Who cares?  Ah-ha!  You do! Those kWs are kilowatt hours – electricity.  Not particularly beer-focused, but son-of-a-gun it takes a lot of kWs to get beer out the door.  (Seriously, check out this green beer article.)  Even more seriously, consider this…

Dean gets paid for boosting consumption of power transmission gears and drives.  He sells by reducing electricty consumption.

It’s yet another example of selling 1/4 holes instead of 1/4 inch drill bits.  It’s called a compelling value proposition.

Always remember:  What you get paid for selling is not, not, NOT what you actually sell.

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