Cody Boardman and The Life of a Salesman: Finding Problems, Finding Solutions
One of the great joys in sifting through the social networks in search of meaningful discussion partners is the arrival at a great resource for a specific subject area. I found that in Cody Boardman, a sales specialist I discovered in a conversation group in Facebook. Putting out compelling content often brings compelling people into the fray, and this was the case with Cody, whom you can follow on Google+. Put him in your circles.
Cody and I exchanged a few messages, but this particular message stood out for me, before I have even had a chance to talk to him in great detail. I wanted to know how he viewed sales, because the Jobs to be Done theory suggests that sales is not a solution pushing system. It’s about finding opportunities within problems that consumers / customers experience.
Perfect for a sales person, and something that seems an inherent part of the sales function.
Cody proved me right. He is able to solve problems, and find opportunities. He’s not there just to complete an equation of Boss needs this + Well, i got this, do you want it = We’ll buy it. He tells me in this message that sales is really about finding out the Why behind a purchasing decision, and filling in the blanks with meaningful opportunities linked to the product being sold — AS THEY RELATE to the business that will be using it.
I’m a sales person by trade so let me break my response to your post down in two ways (again):
Professionally, I sell various analytic solutions to marketers now but have sold in other industries the last eleven years. In present context at Webtrends I help solve problem in SEM, site/social/mobile analytics, custom dashboards for executives etc… it’s in this space that I find people working on initiatives (all the above) with little more for a business case than their ‘gut’ and a handful of soft business requirements driving them. This goes for the ma/pa boutique all the way up to the global brands. It’s magical when someone can effectively answer the question ‘why’ as in why they are engaging in a project/initiative etc…
Personally, I listen to people from all walks and talks of life. Bodybuilders, Powerlifters, husbands and wives, men and women, Christians, Mormons, Buddhists etc… the ‘channels’ are most often in-person and via Facebook but I’ve spent a lot of time conversing in forums and a couple of blogs too. My experience, regardless of the context is that when a specific objective is set, one that is based off fact and not opinion initially, is most likely to achieve the goal/resolution etc… When it’s an organic discussion, that’s good for personal conversation but horrible for anything originating from a person with an agenda/point, one that was not well stated enough that people could ‘get it’.
If I had to establish a specialty, it’s in getting people who know they want to get from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ but don’t know in many cases ‘why’ beyond “My boss said this is where we need to go” even when their boss is also (and secretly) unsure why too. I’ve worked in various capacities (some as an interviewer others as a problem solver) with the General Counsel, Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Compliance Officer’s, VPs of Audit etc… of some of the worlds biggest companies (Kraft, Cargill, Alcatel-Lucent, Yahoo, Apple, Kodak etc…).
A sales person is a person looking for specialty in what he does, but also he is someone looking for the meaningful touch points that consumers experience in their emotional experience in the world.
Cody is an excellent conversationalist, and if you have the chance to engage with him on these social networks, including the comments on this blog, you will find that he’s very good at teasing out ideas by offering feedback, stories and suggestions.