Last year we wrote about how Kim Kardashian’s internet-breaking bum had pipped the Philae comet lander to a lot of front pages online. The aftershock from ‘that’ photoshoot lasted a few weeks – significantly longer than the 60 hours of life the Philae lander had in it before its solar-powered batteries went flat.
That looked like the end of the lander’s adventures. But then something happened that everyone knew could happen in theory, but no one thought was very likely – the Philae lander woke up.
That means that scientists can download the massive amount of data it’s carrying – months’ worth of brand new information that no one has ever had access to before. It also means it can carry on hitchhiking its way through space, recording more data as it goes and potentially taking photos of the comet at its closest pass to the sun in August. It’s unprecedented. It’s exciting – and it could all very easily not have happened.
So, what has this got to do with you, and with selling? Everything.
The Philae story is one that crystallises everything that our industry holds dear – the cornerstones of great salespeople: flair, passion, perseverance, self-belief, individual excellence and strength in a team. It’s all there.
That’s the big picture. And it is a very big picture – one takes in a whole lot of the solar system – but it’s not the big picture that we’re talking here. Let’s look at exactly what salespeople should be taking away from this latest twist in the tale.
1. Good things happen when people build something properly. The official line was always that the Philae lander could run out of battery, sleep, then recharge as the comet it is on moved closer to the sun and wake up. A lot of people thought it would never happen – but the team that built it keep saying it might. Why? Because the lander was built to do. That’s not a 100% guarantee that it would be able to do it in an unprecedented set of circumstances, but they knew it should.
It’s a lot like building an offering and securing a contract. It’s not enough to get the signature on the dotted line and then leave – you need to be making sure that contract will work, and will keep working when it could just as easily fall apart. Put the time in, build it properly, and it will last.
2. Endings aren’t always final. You could forgive the Philae team if they were feeling really, really miserable a week or so ago. Not only had this incredibly advanced, unimaginably complex machine that had taken ten years to reach its destination landed under the shadow of the Kardashian derriere, but it had only lasted 60 hours before conking out. Scientists hadn’t even had time to download a lot of the data it was recording. But I bet they are feeling on top of the world now.
After this many years working in the sales industry, I’m a firm believer that endings aren’t always final. The deal you missed out on this year might come together next year, once your offering can match the client’s demands. The dream client you thought you’d lost forever will resurface in enough time. The end is very rarely the end – so don’t panic, and keep grafting.
3. Position yourself where the power is. This one is pretty straightforward but no less important for it. The Philae lander was positioned wrongly to get the power it needed to keep running – until it moved closer to the source of its power.
We’ve talked many, many times before about making sure you are pitching to the right people. Pitching below the C-suite is a waste of time, unless you’re dealing with an organisation with an autonomous buying team, in which case pitching to the C-suite might be a waste of time. Essentially, you need to find the source of that buying power, and get close to it. If you’re drifting around the outer reaches of that power, you’re a goner.