Chapter 12: The Sales Person; Persistence and the understanding of human desires and fears.

Annie proceeded on her tour alone, and stood peering across the vast under ground cavern as everyone busily went about their work. She reflected on what lessons she had learnt about the first three sides of the ‘black box’ and the functions of building a business of her own.  

As she stood thinking about all those great quotes and revered entrepreneurs and leaders she still couldn’t help looking down at her leather bound book with its letters thinking of Mary with equal awe and respect. Annie wondered whether society really understood the accumulative significance of all those unknown millions of one person businesses many with the modest goal of creating a better life for them selves and their families. Many individuals just like Mary, which were the back bone of our communities and economies with a purpose equally significant to those remembered and studied in our history books, colleges and universities. 

Annie recalled vividly her favourite story about Mary and her first enterprise during the Second World War. Mary had acquired a small allotment where she grew vegetables and raised chickens for their eggs to gain an income and make ends meet. One morning Mary had arrived at the allotment to find that a fox had killed all but one of her chickens. But as usual never to be defeated in business, Mary promptly gathered up all the dead chickens placed them in a potato sack and briskly headed home. Entering her kitchen Mary quickly cleared the kitchen table and took one chicken at a time and laid them out for inspection, carefully removing any eggs that could be salvaged that had not yet been laid, washing them and placing them in a basket. 

Without hesitation she then proceeded to pluck and clean every chicken that could be salvaged for meat or stock. With fresh white meat and eggs on strict rationing she sent a message round the neighbour hood to all her neighbours that Mary Burns had chickens and eggs for sale. Within an hour she had a queue at her back door and by lunch time the money in her pocket to replace all of her dead chickens with her enterprise back on the road. 

Annie loved Mary’s stories for they revealed a stark contrast between the theories of all those business advisors, consultants and academics and the harsh truth of her real life experiences of the challenges of entrepreneurship.

With increased clarity Annie briskly made her way to the doorway and elevator to the ‘Sales’ sector continuing her lessons in mastering the six functions of business.  As Annie entered the elevator the re-engineered transcript from Sam Walton’s book ‘Made in America’ (founder of ‘Wal-Mart’) was replayed from the 1990’s.

“…a lot of folks ask me two related questions all the time. The first one is could a Wal-Mart type story still occur in this day and age? My answer is of course it could happen again. Somewhere out there right now there’s someone-probably hundreds of thousands of some ones-with good enough ideas to go all the way. It will be done again, over and over, providing that someone wants it badly enough to do what it takes to get there. It’s all a matter of attitude and the capacity to constantly study and question the management of the business.” 

Annie listened intently.

 “…. The second question is if I were a young man or woman starting out today with the same sorts of talents and energies and aspirations that I had fifty years ago, what would I do? That answer to that is a little harder to figure out, I don’t know exactly what I would do today, but I feel pretty sure I would be selling something………”

At that the elevator doors opened and Annie entered a brightly lit lecture theatre where a lively sales presentation was being given by a short immaculately dressed gentleman. As Annie entered the room the gentleman briskly approached her introducing himself as Desmond with a warm smile and a handshake. With his own charismatic manner Desmond introduced Annie to his audience as his guest like an old uncle welcoming her into his home.

As Desmond continued his presentation the 20 trainees stood attentively perched against their high stools that evenly surrounded the lecturing platform;

“Unlike conventional businesses we have the great pleasure at the Worlds Creativity Park of having an exceptionally refined product and service which comes close to quite literally ‘selling itself’. Yes ‘selling’ is fundamental to our business, we have our sales associates who specialize in ‘Sales training’ but unlike conventional business’s every associate has the shared role and responsibility of being part of our sales force. We do not discriminate between the different functions and sectors of our business and therefore there are no preferential bonuses, wages and commissions assigned to a sales department and a designated sales team. As associates our collective efforts are rewarded equally through our stocks, shares and wages. We have discovered that our profitability as a company is directly linked to sales driven by associates who are genuinely passionate about our product and service not ‘sales people on commission who would sell anything to their Granny’.” 

Desmond continued to demonstrate that every role within the Park had a sales function whether you were the cleaner, the security guard, the manager or accounts clerk. He discussed the importance of utilizing their listening skills and every form of nonverbal, verbal and visual ‘communication’ to understand each customer, how to mirror and match customer behaviour. In Desmond’s humorous manner he demonstrated how a simple nonverbal nod, smile or even wink could engage a child or adult and begin building customer rapport. 

He spent some time discussing various sales training techniques, basics in selling and customer service. Followed by a brief talk on the importance of genuinely valuing the customer with common courtesies i.e. good morning, good night, thank you, please, simple gems like remembering someone’s name. After a rigorous and detailed presentation with role playing and exercises Desmond finally closed the presentation with an open question session. From the front of the audience a young trainee associate asked;

“Why do you not have a sector for marketing?” 

“Well if I take you back 40 years ago, business was so deluded by “marketing” and advertising that we forgot how to build ‘real’ sustainable businesses with quality products and services with value and growth. We became obsessed as a country with building what they called ‘brand names’.  Marketing was tarnished by becoming a false function of business that was used to mask and deflect from business’s that were unsustainable and simply about poor goods and consumption. 

Many companies mistook marketing for one of the 6 sides of the black box rather than what it really is simply packaging, wrapping paper and the frill you add to the outside of a business after you have designed, engineered and built an intelligent business model. Yes of course Marketing has its place in every Business but it if you have a world class product or service like us, like Dyson, Disney etc. the real Marketing team you reward are your associates, while your customers will provide the service for ‘FREE’.”

From the back of the audience an older trainee raised her hand;

“Hi Desmond, why do the trainers repeatedly ask us whether we have a genuine passion and belief for what you do here? “

“Well that’s simple if your answer is ‘yes’ then congratulations we have completed the first and most important test to identifying if you qualify to become a new associate,we can provide the rest!” said Desmond.  

Learn more: Part II The Enterprise; Black Box Thinking