Finding Einstein

Albert Einstein writing on a blackboard in Pasadena (1931)

Einstein once said “I don’t need to know everything, I just need to know where to find it, when I need it.” Einstein was someone who spent time defining problems and then looking for solutions to them.  He also said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

But that’s what we, as sales professionals, do many times.  We look to solve a client or prospective client’s problem with things that only make incremental change.  “Same thinking” change. And that’s an incremental change for both them and you!  What do I mean by this?

I see, time and again, the approach sales professionals take when trying to find a way to market and sell their “wares.”  You look for customers who are digging the ditches.  The implementers, the executors of a solution.  This is particularly true when in expansion mode, where a solution is already implemented whether or not it’s your solution, generally speaking the solution is doing the job yours can do. Frankly though, whether you’re expanding or searching for that new logo, outliers aside, this is the pattern.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with incremental selling in a broader sense.  The “pots and pans” can add up, they can make or break a team’s number for the year.  So, I’m not endorsing walking around a $5er laying in the street.  (It used to be $1 but, inflation…)  The challenge is real growth can be tough, and diminishing returns are almost impossible to avoid because you’re counting on your client’s growth based on how they’re built now.  Einstein is saying this in a way: your solution is solving problems based on how their business is working at present.  Once their system or process starts to erode, so will your sales.  

It usually goes something like this.  You find these venerable soldiers in the corporate workplace who are digging.  They’ve got shovels. They’re digging and digging and digging.  And here you come, tapping them on the shoulder every five or ten minutes, asking them how the shoveling is going? How do they like their shovel?  What’s good about it? What would they change about it?  “Hey, I’ve got a really cool shovel here, it’s got a rubber grip and a sharper blade and, and, and it’s lighter too!”  

These folks have already been given the solution.  They’ve been handed a “package” by leadership that includes money (budget), tools, and targets and told to “engage”!  Along the way, they may swap out some of those tools, get some extra money or spend leftover money, they may even tweak the direction.  In the end though, the decision has been made based on the business as it is today.  Here’s the roadmap, get there.

What I’m challenging you to do is find the people who think like Einstein.  The ones who are ALWAYS looking for real solutions to new problems on the horizon.  Problems that haven’t been realized or even foreseen yet. You want to find the ones who see all the shoveling and say “Why aren’t we using backhoes?”  Or better yet, let’s use dynamite!  No!  Let’s use lasers and we’ll fire them from space!”  Solution: We’ll build spaceships…

Exponential change. (I’m talking about taking a $100K opportunity and making it a $1M agreement! Or just use numbers that really turn you on!). 

These explorers (I call them Explorers) scan the horizon constantly searching for fires to put out and ways to create the next flame-proof thingy making fire obsolete.  In my career, as an individual contributor, leader, or entrepreneur,  my greatest wins, greatest years, greatest and most fun experiences came by riding in the wake of these geniuses.  They are fearless, they’re contrarian, they are misunderstood by their peers and almost always have the ear of the top of the decision-making pyramid.  The rarified air of the C suite.  So…

Go find them.  To do this you have to be a bit of an explorer yourself.  Start looking into caves less traveled for your organization.  Understand their business, read about them, their industry and the world in general.  Be aware of the real value your company brings to an executive and he or she will connect you to these explorers.  Disrupt yourself, cinch up your long pants, grab your lantern and canary, and head out for the undiscovered country.  Einstein also said “Logic can take you from point A to point B. Imagination can take you wherever you want.”  Imagine that. 

“Greetings Explorer.  If you’ve made it this far, then curiosity and awareness are two of your superpowers. Do you have the COURAGE to go to the next level?  Consider the wild idea of investing in you! New programs are available! Why wait any longer?!?  Here’s a link to start creating that discussion right now!

Featured Image Source: ASSOCIATED PRESS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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