Companies always talk about their “value prop” as why they are different in the marketplace. Literally, the definition is “an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers”. Sometimes they’ll tell you even when you don’t ask. It’s usually how they perceive their product or service and not necessarily the reason they are, in fact, different. A lot of the times their “value prop” is similar to their competitors. What I’m getting at is typical companies always think about their product or features first instead of the thing that usually is the determining factor of winning or losing…The People.
Think about it, if you’re in a very transactional business then we can assume customers are buying for price and then secondly for a small feature here or there. People are still very important even if a lot of the sales take place on a website and with little sales interaction. However, I’m speaking for larger more complex sales as it is the people you have interacting with the client that continually put you ahead of the game…not your product.
Think of the most dominate team in the NFL this century. (Full disclosure: I’m a 49ers fan). It’s not the 49ers, unfortunately. Of course, we all know it’s The New England Patriots. If we asked them what their “value prop” or “differentiator” was what do you think their answer would be? I’m betting it wouldn’t be “our defensive strategy”, “our play calling”, “our game video prep”. All, by the way, relevant and probably could be argued as ways they are better than the competition. But we all know the answer to this silly question. It’s Tom Brady. It’s Bill Belichick. It’s Bob Kraft. It’s the people that are running their business that make all the difference. Think of your own business. Products probably have some similarities with competitors but if you have people that are energized and passionate about your clients…Boy, what a game-changer.
Bob Kraft may be the best CEO in the country. He knows when to get involved and knows when to stay out of things. He puts the right people in place and he trusts his team to make the right decisions and gets involved only when his expertise can be utilized. He doesn’t appear to micromanage or talk down to his team and think that he is “all-knowing”. As Steve Jobs famously said “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Mr. Kraft embodies a true leader.
If Mr. Kraft is the CEO, then Bill Belichick is the ultimate VP of Sales. He is full business when it’s time for business. Yes, He comes off short and cold to the media and even in-game when he looks the Emperor from Star Wars but have you ever seen a person more focused on the most important items all the while “clearing the clutter” on shit that doesn’t matter. He’s the ultimate master of prioritizing things that will help his team win and eliminating wasted motion from the day. And, if you talk to any of his players over the years there is an incredible amount of trust in him to make critical business decisions. Hell, he pulls out things from players few would be able to. They seem like they would jump in front of a bus for him, as well. There is no better in-game manager when the pressure is at an all-time high.
Bill Belichick is a magnificent coach and mentor.
Now, There is no better “Top Performing Sales Professional” than Tom Brady. The parallels are uncanny. First, let’s not forgot that Tom was a 6th round pick. Your top sales reps don’t always come in with a great resume or with a ton of experience. It’s great leadership that recognizes the intangibles and gets out of the way to let that person grow. They sprinkle in coaching when necessary. Tom is focused, driven, patient, and competitive. All traits necessary to succeed long-term and not be a “one-hit” wonder. In his profession, his health and fitness are extremely important and nobody could argue the preparation he puts into each game and each offseason. Now, I personally think health and fitness is very important to sales but I’ll save that for another article. However, Sales professionals must continue to “sharpen the saw” both in-game with clients and through role play or practice at other times. You have to be willing to listen and be vulnerable to feedback in order to keep improving and sparring with your colleagues is a good way to do that. Tom Brady isn’t the same player he was when he came out of Michigan. It took years of building a trusting team around him and being able to have self-awareness of his strengths and weaknesses. Tom is the best QB in football not just because he has incredible traits that help him perform physically but he embodies leadership traits in all phases of the game; the huddle, on the sideline, at practice; etc.
Tom Brady is the ultimate “Sales Pro”.
There are certainly companies that embody these same attributes but it’s always interesting to look at an obscure use case as it confirms the fact that successful people and businesses thrive in environments that allow trust and communication to be at the top of their core values and let the abilities of their team be exposed and broadened. I’ve spoken about leadership a ton and it has many sides to it. It shouldn’t just be used as an identifier for people running the organization. Truly successful businesses do a great job of identifying leaders throughout the company and putting them in situations they can succeed and where they can help other “role players” be the best they can be.
Start valuing your assets.
…The wins will start piling up.