EP192: Sales Insights Using Sailing Strategies for Business Success
Today's adventure is a jaunt on the high seas with Chris Beall's wife, Helen Fanucci, the sailing extraordinaire (before she even became his better half).
Now, my sailing skills are on par with a landlocked pirate. But no matter because this story isn't just about boats and briny waters – it's a tale of drive, insight, and a dash of brilliance that'll leave you pondering your business compass.
Picture it: a sun-soaked day, a boat called J80, and Helen Fanucci – a mechanical maestro with a thirst for precision. Amidst the waves, she spots a teeny metal tab on the mast, having a bit of a tiff with its groove.
But here's the twist – she didn't pounce on the problem like a hungry seagull on a French fry. Oh no! She executed a strategic dance of action and contemplation. Think of it as a chess grandmaster swapping their knight for a piña colada mid-game. The result? A symphony of decisions, a triumphant "click," and a lesson that'll rock your business boat. Join Chris for the full story in this episode, "Sales Insights Using Sailing Strategies for Business Success."
Full episode transcript below:
Today's adventure is a jaunt on the high seas with Chris Beall and his wife Helen Fanucci, the sailing extraordinaire before she became his better [00:00:30] half. Now, I must confess, my sailing skills are on par with a landlocked pirate, but no matter, because this story isn't just about boats and briny waters, it's a tale of drive, insight and a dash of brilliance that will leave you pondering your business compass.
Picture this, a sun soaked day and Helen Fanucci, a mechanical maestro with a thirst for precision. Amidst the wave, she spots a teeny metal tab on the mast, having a bit of a tiff with its groove. But here's the twist, she didn't pounce on the problem [00:01:00] like a hungry seagull on a french fry. No, no. She executed a strategic dance of action and contemplation. Think of it as a chess grandmaster swapping their night for a pina colada mid-game. The result, a symphony of decisions, a triumphant click and a lesson that'll rock your business boat.
Join Chris for the full story in this episode, Sales Insights using Sailing Strategies for Business Success.
Chris Beall (01:30):
[00:01:30] Hey everybody, this is Chris Beall and this is Market Dominance Guys, the podcast, without my cohost, Corey Frank who, he must be out doing something important because he couldn't make it today, and I've decided to put something together that hopefully it'll be of some value to you. So let's see how I can do without Corey Frank, but with my favorite monstrosity, the Ovation of the Seas, [00:02:00] which this is my commemorative picture of it, showing up after COVID, the first cruise ship to show up in Elliot Bay in Seattle, reopening the world of cruising after it had been shut down by COVID. You can have a lot of opinions about whether cruising should be banned or not, as they've done, certainly in Amsterdam, they've decided it's not a great idea to have these big things show up. But they're kind of cool, like a giant hotel, city block long, so to speak, and [00:02:30] out there going from one place to another with other people on the water. There is something about it. I'm not a huge fan, but I'm fan enough, so there we go.
What I wanted to chat about today is this whole question of the delicate balance between drive and myopia. I'll tell a story. So this is a story, as y'all know, I like to sometimes [00:03:00] tell stories about my wife back when she was my fiance, but this is before we were even at that level. She was taking me out sailing on this very body of water here, actually, not Elliot Bay per se, but for the north, just a place called Shilshole, and there was something about the boat and something on the mast that she thought was not quite right. It was just a little tab like object.
Now I don't know anything about sailing. I mean, I used to sail Sunfish in [00:03:30] Boulder Reservoir in Boulder, Colorado, but to call that sailing is an overstatement.
So this boat is, I think, called the J80 or something like that, and she was in a group that raced them, Seattle Sailing Club, so she was a sailboat racer, but hadn't really taken one out by herself. So she goes through a checklist, MIT trained mechanical engineer. Very, very thorough, very professional in the way she handled all that. I felt very comfortable getting on the boat. [00:04:00] I'm good on water anyway, I figure I can swim and how long are you going to be hanging out in the water anyway?
So we go out, there was a little mishap in that the bow line that connected the boat to shore hadn't been loosed, and so we had a hard time getting going with that in its position. But that got resolved and out we went onto beautiful Elliot Bay. It was a lovely day, light breeze, really, really nice. But we were just getting going. And she [00:04:30] noticed something that was up on the mast a little ways, and it was like a little metallic tab that didn't look like it was inserted correctly in this groove that went up and down in the mast. I don't know anything about sailing.
What she did was she ran, literally ran, from the position in the back of the boat. As skipper, she was back there making sure it was going in the right direction, up to the mast and then put on the brakes. When she put on the brakes, she was close to the problem, to [00:05:00] the mystery, but she didn't just keep going and grab it and start manipulating it. She got close, stopped and looked, and she looked at what this little tab was attached to, what it might be doing, what its degrees of freedom of motion might be, and so forth. Made a decision, took an action. Action didn't quite work. Adjust it a little bit, it clipped into place whatever it was, and back she went to take care of making sure we [00:05:30] were continuing to go in the right direction.
I thought, what an interesting way to approach problems, and one that we could learn from. So there was a lot of energy, not waiting to see is this a problem or not, but application of a lot of energy toward the problem, and then slowing down, broadening the vision, looking around and then making some decisions to [00:06:00] do some experiments, and then figuring out what needed to be done. In this particular case, taking action, being satisfied that the action was sufficient to resolve whatever the situation was and going back to whatever she was doing. I think there's a big lesson in business and in sales in particular around that.
Speaker 1 (06:21):
We'll be back in a moment after a quick break.
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And we're back.
Chris Beall (07:11):
So we've talked on Market Dominance Guys about the problem of the dog, the bone or the piece of meat and the chain link fence, so I'll repeat it. So this is fairly common behavior among dogs and sadly among salespeople.
If you have a dog and the dog is hungry, and all dogs are hungry at all times, [00:07:30] and you have a nice juicy piece of meat and you put it on one side of a chain link fence and the dog on the other side. So you release the dog right near the fence where it can smell the meat, and there's a gate only 10 feet away to the right of the dog, easy to go through, wide open, what's the dog going to do? The dog's going to try to go through the fence, over the fence, under the fence in order to get to the meat. The dog wants to solve the problem. The problem [00:08:00] is the problem of not having this wonderful juicy piece of meat in its mouth so it could make more dog that way, so it could become more full and stronger and more powerful and capable of going through the world and doing what dogs need to do.
So here's what the dog didn't do, and that dog never does, and nor do most salespeople. Frankly, nor do most business people, which is to get close to the fence, but then ask this question, "What's around [00:08:30] here that could be interesting, that could be connected to this problem?"
Well, backing up a couple feet, one might look to the right and look to the left and say, "That looks different over on the right, I think I'll take a quick little trot over there and check it out." Go over and check it out. "Oh look, it's the biggest hole possible in a chain link fence, it's called the open gate."
So the gate is open, dog goes through, not too hard to navigate with a dog's nose over to the meat, life is great. But most of [00:09:00] us have the dog that tries to go through the fence. So rather than approaching the problem and apprehending what's hooked up to what might be in play, and then taking a look around, we tend to keep going. So we let our energy turn into drive to solve the problem.
One of the things I think is true is in the interviewing situations, when we're interviewing somebody to be, say, a sales [00:09:30] rep, an individual contributor in sales, we love drive. So when somebody shows a lot of drive, when they show that they can just keep going forward to get something done, we think that's fabulous. And we tend to rate that person and rank that person higher than others who might seem to be a little more circumspect.
We might go, "Oh, Mary here has huge drive. I love Mary. I want to hire Mary. Whereas Janine, she [00:10:00] seems like she wants to think about things a little bit, that seems like analysis paralysis to me. I don't like that so much, I'm going to hire Mary." It might work out, it's possible that Mary's got drive, but also can slow down, look around, figure out what's going on and make a good decision.
But more often than not, a person whose energy can turn only into drive, and not into apprehension and consideration, [00:10:30] that is apprehending the situation and considering the possibilities, that person who only has drive, ends up pounding their head against the wall, pounding their nose, bloodying themselves in that chain link fence and telling you, the manager, the boss, that they're making progress. After all, look at all the blood. "I'm bleeding, I must be doing the right thing."
So I think it's something for us all to think about and act [00:11:00] on when we're interviewing is to ask ourselves the question, "Is this somebody who can use their energy?" Because they need energy. Without energy, we have nothing. So, "Can they use their energy to approach problems? But do they have the discipline to slow down, take a good look, think about what's going on and then, choose a path that might include that gate that's wide open 10 feet to the right?"
When you think about it, this is actually [00:11:30] the biggest advantage of taking difficult situations and simply talking them through. Because everybody's at a different distance from the problem and looking at it from a different dimension, different angle. If somebody's over there by the gate, they might say, "Hey, by the way, there's a way across to the other side of the fence. If we got over there, do you think we'd be closer to the meat?"
Now somebody might say, "No, no, no, we're farther away. I'm only two inches from it here, whereas if we go over there, we're 10 [00:12:00] feet away and then we end up being 13 or 14 feet away. Wow, that's a ridiculous thing."
But we also might go take a look and take a look at what somebody else's thoughts indicate. Might be a solution to a problem that's challenging to us. So when we find ourselves in a situation, as individuals or as managers, where energy is turned only into drive, and drive becomes myopia, we have a contribution we can make. And the contribution [00:12:30] is, "Hey, let's talk about it. Let's have a conversation. Let's slow down a little bit. Let's back up two steps. Let's look a little more broadly and see whether there's another path, a strategy."
Because as we've talked about in this podcast before, a strategy is a series of steps, each one of which reduces the cost and the risk of the next step that might get us closer to our goal. Think of it as a way to across a river.
[00:13:00] So you have a raging river and it has rocks in it. The rocks are dry or maybe a little splashed on, but if we can find a path rock to rock to rock, it might not go straight across the river, but if each one of those little jumps is a jump that we can make and land safely, we have a strategy for crossing the river.
It's very, very rare in business, very, very rare in sales, that straight ahead... "Damn the maneuvers, go right at them," as Lord Nelson [00:13:30] famously once said, is actually the optimum strategy. The world doesn't arrange itself so politely for us in that way. So if we can back up, after getting close, great. If we don't have the energy to get close, we're screwed anyway.
So when we're hiring, good idea is to hire for energy. But listen for stories about where somebody brought that energy to bear, got close to the problem, broadened their view, maybe with the help of others, [00:14:00] and chose a path that resulted in a positive resolution without getting all bloody trying to go through the chain link fence, which isn't going to yield to the nose of that particular dog.
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