If you had to hire yourself, would you? Would you seek out your own expertise?
Consider the net worth of your professional training to your internal co-workers and your external customers.
At a sales meeting several years ago, colleagues discussed how difficult it is to engage engineers in the business development process. The sales folks felt that many engineers perceive their functional role in their company as similar to that of a waiter at a restaurant!
The engineer-waiter hovers over the table, waiting for the customer to order (or the sales people to land a contract and bring it in house), so they can rush off to the kitchen (their department) and do the cooking (design a solution). The problem is that the customer may not know the restaurant (the vendor’s company) exists, or be hungry for what the restaurant is serving (the vendor’s capabilities). And the customer can’t discover how great the food is if the waiter (engineer) only waits around for an order (a salesperson bringing in a contract). The customer wants the waiter to engage them, making them hungry for the menu of offerings (become directly involved in business development).
Don’t worry. These colleagues were no less brutal on their own sales peers!
Salespeople were no better than talking heads or a brochure on legs (the menu)! Salespeople were “showing up and throwing up” information at appointments with prospective customers, based on misassumptions that the customer was hungry for their products and services! Like the waiter/engineer, these sales folks didn’t determine whether prospects needed their offerings (is the customer even hungry for what you offer on your menu?), or whether there was any immediate or realistic means of making a decision to buy their solution (order food from your kitchen). Salespeople equated an appointment (“Someone has time on their hands; I can meet my appointment quota.”) with the buying process (“I am sure I can talk them into being hungry for my solution”).
Do either of these scenarios apply to your perceptions of your technical or non-technical colleagues? If so, I’d say everyone is operating inside a vacuum!
Thinking of your current company, how feasible and realistic is it to expect professionals to perform isolated functions and hand them off to someone else after they are finished with their tasks? This perception reduces technical and non-technical professionals to stereotypic order-takers, and their output to piecework on an assembly line. Not very flattering.
Would you do business with someone like that? Is that someone I just described you?
How are you regarded by your customers – as an order-taker, a partner, and/or an innovator? Input, output, and throughput should be top of your mind. Anticipate the needs of not only the person to whom you will be handing off the project, but also the individual from whom you will be receiving output.
Once we enter the workforce, the practical reality of our jobs meets the conceptual dream of our academic training. The business owner will not pass or fail us, or give us first or second honors. They are simply going to choose whether or not to continue doing business with us, as either their employee or vendor.
In this expanding global economy, simply doing your specific job is not enough for keeping your job or retaining your client base. While academia can prepare us to do a competent job in the workforce, the context and application of our throughput and output in our professional setting is what contributes to a positive or negative revenue outcome.
Perhaps it’s time to hit your Reset button. Think about it.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013-2016. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.