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Where’s Waldo? He’s in Texas Along With Your Sales Career


Guest articles > Where’s Waldo? He’s in Texas Along With Your Sales Career


by: Doug Martin


Teams take credit, people take blame. I’ve worked in a bunch of team environments, marketing teams, sales teams, creative teams, production teams, and management teams. Sometimes we call them committees. I’ve sat on a few charitable boards, organizing groups, steering committees (whatever they are) and the odd sports team. And by sports, I mean golfing.

I like sales teams the best. Every team has some purpose or mandate and in the sales world, the obvious would be driving commerce. But it is often much more. Valued field reconnaissance information, feedback on marketing programs from customers or dealers, input on how new product acceptance is going and projecting predictable growth in market share and wallet. Sales teams are often asked for their valued input on a number of dynamics; this is referred to, generally speaking, as your 2 cents worth.

There exists an interesting dynamic within the sales team, safety. Where one might appropriately hide by virtue of diffused responsibility. The numbers are always the numbers and you can’t scoot around those, but the numbers are only a piece of the overall value you bring to the company. Much of your value is determined by the contributions you make to the overall team. And every team has two dominant personalities. The Champion and the Voice of Reason.

At first blush, it appears as though the Voice of Reason is adding value to the conversation, as ideas and collaborative ground tactics are being batted around, by pointing out a couple of nuggets as to why that idea won’t work. It’s always some logistics thing, or we can’t trust the IT guys to execute properly, it’s always something. The Champion always wants to explore how to accomplish, get past the hurdles, think through to the positive outcomes. In gaining tactical consensus, Champions win way less than half the time. Leaving the Voice of Reasons’ to fester some inner satisfaction in preventing some disastrous program from ultimately bankrupting the company.

Champions also have an interesting personality twist. They don’t take credit, they take responsibility. Stepping outside the safety of the group when things go off the rails and standing in the wind as the person responsible. Risky? Not on your life.

Part of your path, one assumes, is to move and grow within your organization. You stand out by standing up. Being accountable and most importantly, growing through knowledge. Of course you will be called onto the carpet to rationalize whatever big idea tactic fell short, but you’ll have already analyzed it and know exactly where it slipped off the tracks. Become the one in your organization who shoulders responsibility.

I was in Dallas a couple of years ago and shared a breakfast table with a fellow at the hotels morning buffet. Telling me he was “in sales” is like music to my ears and we quickly exchanged business cards. His said “Vice President of Business Development”. Mine said “Doug”. Clearly his advancement was beyond just working a territory so I asked him if there was a defining moment he could recall that catapulted him within the company.

“Yes Sir” he said adamantly. They call everybody in Texas sir. It’s a thing.

“About twenty of us handled most of Texas, at least where there was some farming and ranching going on and we got together to talk about how we were going to handle the upcoming tradeshow season” as his eyebrows furrowed indicating a sidebar approaching “I hate tradeshows”.

I just nodded. Those three words ring soundly to anyone who’s rocked from side to side at a booth somewhere in the middle of a hockey rink converted into a convention center.

“Like always, we grumbled about the value of these things, then ending up carving out a work schedule and deciding what our draw box prize will be.” He continued, “So I jumped up and said we ought to do something different. Thinking that one of our goals was to get prime prospects to our booth, I suggested we capitalize on the Where’s Waldo phenomenon by dressing up a guy in a Waldo costume and have him in our booth. We printed up a bunch of Where’s Waldo cards and handed them out at the front door as people came in. Find Waldo and get a prize. A pen or something”.

Intuitive people can see pending disaster on the horizon and as he continued his story the smiles began crossing each of our faces.

“The first day, traffic seemed about the same as usual, but we were spending an inordinate amount of time explaining to visitors exactly who Waldo was. It seems beyond nine-year-olds and the parents of nine-year-olds very few farmers and ranchers had ever heard of Waldo. But the people who own the character rights to Waldo certainly know who he is and it was just a little embarrassing when the tradeshow organizer showed up on day two with a Cease and Desist Order. So I sent our red and white striped friend home and spent the next few days dealing with the pit in my stomach and explaining to the thousands of Waldo card holders they’d just won a pen for nothing”.

“As the last box got loaded on the truck at the end of the show, I sat behind the wheel and made the call I was dreading. I called my bosses boss” he said and I could still see the agony in his face, “Mike, I just want you to know that the Waldo thing was my idea and I convinced the guys to go along with it. I immediately complied with the notice to stop and I hope it all ends there.” He said hoping this would conclude the event, but naturally it didn’t. “I want you in St. Louis on Friday morning” was the singular response from Mike.

“That meeting was my tipping point” he said smiling far more broadly “I got spanked, but not too badly, the meeting however became an exchange of market points of differentiation, field ideas and goals”. As he stood and cleared his plate he shared one final thought. “I’m not sure where Waldo is these days, but I’m in St. Louis sitting in Mikes old office”.

Stand up to stand out.


Douglas Martin is a Professional Corporate Sales Trainer featuring his trademarked seminar program EPIG™ Customer Relationship Architecture and purveyor of The Weekly Sales Beast where his lighter side of heavy selling musings are syndicated worldwide. To learn more about the EPIG™ program or to contact Doug

Contributor: Douglas Martin

Published here on: 28-Jan-11

Classification: Sales


MSWord: Where's Waldo.doc


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