Big Title, Big Assumptions
My wife, Allison, and I recently started watching HBO’s Succession. Without spoiling the plot, I can safely tell you that the title of this series succinctly describes what the show is about. A father of four is getting on in years and questions abound regarding who will succeed him at the helm of his media conglomerate. There’s probably a dozen sales tips and blogs I could make from this show but one topic jumped out immediately: Not every company executive is Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. Many are more like Jim Carrey, Jerry Lewis, George Costanza.
When I was a much younger salesperson—a character I call “Little Billy”— I remember being particularly intimidated by C Level executives. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I came to a realization, the same one the father in Succession reaches when speaking to one of his children who is trying to fill his seat: You are an idiot.
Here’s the thing: somewhere in between brilliant and inept lies your customer. Some are experts in their field and have amazing leadership skills while others fall into the, “… And I’m Eric” category. Either way, your job remains the same. In order to make a successful and profitable sale, you must understand their business needs and come up with a solution, be it traditional or digital, that solves a problem they are having.
Don’t make the assumption that you are dealing with Jack Welch. Don’t be like Little Billy and be scared to reach up to the top with your ideas. As a friend once told me, it takes five people in a company to make a $5000 decision but only one to make a $100,000 decision.
Let that be your Succession lesson.