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“The Answer to My Least Favorite Professional Question.”

I love Sport.

Not just some of it….I love it all.  

Seeing individuals come together for a common purpose, with a goal to achieve greatness through competition.  There’s nothing better, in my opinion, than giving your all to something, hoping for a specific outcome but not knowing if it will come to fruition.

I think that’s why I love coaching so much.  After being a player for so many years, the ability to help take what I’ve learned and make an impact in the lives of others is a great honor.

What’s most interesting to me about coaching is the aspect of building a team.  No individual person is like another, and each individual brings a unique perspective and energy to the team.  Early in my coaching career, I wanted all of my players and athletes to be like me.  I wanted them to have my drive and passion, my energy, my positive outlook.  In reality, I wasn’t helping them grow, I was holding them back from being their best selves.  

One thing I’ve learned is that we are all given unique gifts, talents and skills.  Each of these playing a crucial role in developing an incredible team.  With our combined gifts, talents and skills, we are able to do things we could never imagine on our own.

After almost two decades of working in packaging equipment and robotic automation for some incredible companies and despite their initial concern, showed that I was capable of accomplishing the goals and initiatives set but one question has followed me wherever I go.

“You don’t have a super technical background, how do you think that will affect you when selling a technical solution?”

And here’s the answer…. 

“It doesn’t matter.”

Now before the tried and true technical folks come at me like the villagers after Shrek, let me clarify.  I think having a technical background is amazing.  I think it brings a lot of value AND I don’t think it’s as needed as what some might think.  When it comes to sales, in my humble opinion, I don’t need to be a technical expert.  I want to be someone who is an uber professional at sales, building incredible relationships, and making sure that the right people are in the room together.   

If my customer wants to have a technical deep dive into a project, I’m all for it!  I’ll make sure to have the right people on that call, or in that meeting to answer any and all questions.

Now here’s the kicker.  

A true sales professional will do what they do best.  

Listen and learn.  

While listening to the questions and conversations had during this technical deep dive, they will learn.  They will learn what’s important to the customer, also learning what questions are important to ask.  They will learn to have a better understanding of what the customer’s challenges are, and what challenges are presented to their engineering team.  A sales professional, one who approaches sales like a professional athlete, studying and working on their craft, won’t sit in a room and turn off.  It’s not how they operate. 

This is an opportunity for them to learn, get better and serve at an even higher level. 

I was once told by a customer that he loved that fact I wasn’t an engineer.  He said, “It allows you to keep your opinion to yourself.  You don’t have to prove you’re smart or think that you know everything and how to do it best.  I like that.”

It becomes really easy to focus on a certain skill set and believe that it’s a must have.  As a coach, I’ve done that so many times, and while that skill might bring incredible value, it isn’t the determining factor for success.  

Success in anything is a sum of multiple parts.  In order to find the best talent, you have to look at all the gifts, talents and skills a person has, and how they can “add to” the culture, not just “fit it”.

4 Ways To Truly Evaluate Someone's Super Powers: 

  1. Embrace Individual Uniqueness: Recognize that each person brings a distinct set of gifts, talents, and skills to the table. Avoid the trap of seeking clones of yourself or a specific ideal. Instead, appreciate the diverse perspectives and strengths each individual offers. This diversity is not just a boon; it's essential for creating a well-rounded, dynamic team that can tackle challenges from multiple angles.

  2. Look Beyond Technical Expertise: While specific skills and knowledge are important, they aren't the be-all and end-all. Evaluate how a person fits into the broader picture. Are they adept at building relationships, problem-solving, and adapting to new situations? Can they bring people together and facilitate collaboration? Remember, technical skills can be taught, but qualities like emotional intelligence, adaptability, and a team-oriented mindset are often innate and equally valuable.

  3. Assess Learning and Listening Skills: A key characteristic of a talented individual is their ability to listen, learn, and grow. In my example, it wasn’t the technical knowledge that mattered most, but the ability to understand client needs and bring the right people into the conversation. Look for people who demonstrate a willingness to learn, an ability to absorb new information, and a knack for asking insightful questions. These qualities are indicative of a growth mindset, crucial for long-term success.

  4. Consider Cultural Contribution, Not Just Fit: Instead of looking for candidates who merely fit your team's existing culture, seek out those who can contribute something new and valuable to it. Talent isn't just about skillsets; it's about how an individual's unique attributes and perspectives can enhance and enrich the team's dynamics, creativity, and problem-solving capabilities. A person who adds to your culture helps evolve it, driving innovation and progress.

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