Thursday, April 30, 2009

“FIREPROOF” Business Partners


Last year, in my personal blog (A Few Days With Figgins), I posted an article about a movie called “FIREPROOF”. As I said in that article, “Just from the movie’s logo, the word ‘FIREPROOF’ with the ‘OO’ represented by interlocking wedding rings, you quickly get a sense of what the movie is about.” Since my Wife, Ruth and I head up our church’s Married Couples Fellowship, we welcome seeing a movie that encourages married couples to tend to their marriage. Of course, techniques that are healthy for marriages are often wise additions to other sorts of relationships. As the U.S. economy has been going through its current “trial by fire”, I’ve been reminded of the importance of having “FIREPROOF” business relationships.

Most Sales people become adept at communicating WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) messages to their Prospects. Typically these are FABs (Features, Advantages and Benefits) … things like “A 3.2 GHz processor”, “50% faster than your current PC” and “You’ll be able to do the same amount of work in half the time”. But, how many Sales people fully address what to expect when there are problems? Of course, after-Sales service, warranties, etc. are commonly detailed. How often, though, do you hear a Sales person say something like, “You know, we have a great (company, product, service, etc.) but we’re not perfect and there will be problems. An important consideration for you is, when problems come up, have you chosen a business-partner you can count on? I want you to know, when problems occur, you can count on me to be there, shoulder-to-shoulder with you.” Especially in the current “trial by fire” economy, its important to set your offering apart in as many meaningful ways as possible and setting yourself apart in this way may make the difference in whether you get business or it goes to your competitor.

This is, also, an important consideration in hiring. As a Sales Manager, there are numerous qualities to consider, in selecting the right Sales people for your team. However, no matter how good your selection is, the person you select won’t be joining a perfect (company, Sales team, Sales Manager, etc.). What can you expect from them when problems arise? Although the commitment to an employer/employee relationship isn’t the same as the Husband/Wife commitment to marriage, its important to know if you’re hiring someone who will stick with you “through thick and through thin”. Likewise, when you, as a Sales person, are considering a new employer, you should give this aspect some thought.

The movie “FIREPROOF” uses the metaphor of a company of Fire Fighters and their motto, “Never Leave Your Partner Behind”, to exemplify a necessary attitude for a successful marriage. With that said, I think its fair to say, there’s no such thing as a “FIREPROOF” marriage. There will be fires and some burning will take place. However, if Husband and Wife are fully committed to “Never Leave (Their) Partner Behind”, the marriage won’t “go down in flames”. Especially in the current “trial by fire” economic times, it seems important to strive for this sense of “FIREPROOF” in business relationships too.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree? What are your favorite stories, along these lines, that you’d like to share?! Please let us know so it can be shared with others.