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  • Writer's pictureMike

Be the Drummer

Stewart Copeland is a rock star. He is best known as the drummer for the Police, and he is an accomplished composer. He is credited with this quote, which I love: "There are two types of musicians – musicians of the eye, and musicians of the ear.”

Copeland, when interviewed, often discusses this idea that there are musicians who are classically trained to play the notes on the page, and musicians who rely on instinct and less formality. Orchestral players are musicians of the eye. Their mission is to faithfully obey the sheet music. As a group, their artistry comes from playing their part as written. But rock musicians, like Copeland, are musicians of the ear, employing improvisation to make great music without the formal score.

Sales Process – It's Just Sheet Music

I’ve said for years there are two types of salespeople, both equally capable of finding great success. The natural, improvisational sales professional and the diligent sales process oriented professional. Both are capable of making great music – the music of selling. One will gladly embrace new sales process ideas and initiatives. The other may shun such structure in favor of intuitive skill.

But what about the other members of the sales team? What role does sales process play for them?

It takes an entire band, and in some cases an entire orchestra, of participants to support a complex sale. From solution engineers to product managers to marketing professionals to sales management and the executive team. Each of these contributors will play their part and a key role in the pursuit. Some may be intuitive and comfortable improvising. Others may perform better when they understand the overall strategy and selling landscape as they strive to give their best performance.

Implementing a consistent sales process isn’t meant to restrict or punish the improvisational sales professional. In fact, quite the opposite. The best deployed sales processes are designed to create a framework that helps sales professionals who are process oriented as well as those who are comfortable without formal structure get the very best performance from the rest of the team.

Lead Singer or Drummer?

I’ve always believed that the very best salespeople who sell in a team environment are those who adopt the persona of the drummer – the player who keeps the beat for the rest of the team. It’s easy to think of the sales professional as the lead singer, but it’s really the drummer that keeps the entire group aligned. Without the drummer’s consistent structure and tempo, the music sounds terrible. Such is also true of the leader of sales pursuits – the sales professional. Without their structured guidance, the rest of us can’t play at our best in helping deliver a great score!

To all sales professionals everywhere: sales process is there to help the entire team – your band – perform at their very best so they can help you win. And winning is music to everyone's ears.

Happy Selling!

(Image Credit: Photo by Erriko Boccia on Unsplash.)


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