How do you introduce yourself at meetings? Do you state your job title and professional certifications? Do you showcase the number of professional publications you have or whether or not you are the winner of the quarterly sales contests or the annual top sales leader award?
What do you really bring to the table, day in and day out? You are more than your job title or latest accolades. Those are nouns. What adjectives would you use to describe your professional core competencies – those deliverables that your colleagues and customers can expect to receive from you consistently, professionally, and with unending excellence?
Last month, I was invited to a think tank roundtable of female entrepreneurs and sales leaders. While I have been known to engage in the sales process on a daily basis, Sales Aerobics for Engineers® works in the technical and startup space. That’s not exactly the status quo environment for thinking about sales.
Everyone introduced themselves and then it was my turn. What did I say? I simply asked each of the women seated around the table what professional magazine they had read during their plane ride to Boston. Then I held up the magazine I had been reading: Manufacturing Engineering.
“Welcome to my world”, I stated. They laughed. They got it. I didn’t need to go into some lengthy speech about how the space I live in is a quite bit different from the status quo of Sales 2.0. And we had a fabulous two-day meeting, with tremendous collaboration across the sales-engineering interface™.
After all, there are far more similarities between our colleagues than there are differences.
Sometimes all it takes is a bit of humor and the willingness to look at ourselves from the outside in, rather than the inside out. Sometimes all it takes is a willingness to find the common denominators between our professional colleagues even though we initially tend to want to identify the differences.
Otherwise, you feel like a horse with stripes in a room full of zebras. You are constantly trying to rationalize what you are doing in a room full of them. In fact, they might be doing the same thing about you. So why go there in the first place?
That sort of sounds like some of those Monday morning, cross-functional meetings, doesn’t it? What might your output look like if you collectively determined the common denominators, the common aspects of your input-throughput-output? Finding these common threads allows you to express yourselves in terminology that is significant to everyone seated around the table.
When your colleagues “get” what “your world” looks like, they end up making an effort for their input to be understood, and therefore relevant, to your world. That makes for tremendous throughput. And the output becomes the product of a team effort, rather than piece work.
Something to think about going towards your next team meeting?
Babette Ten Haken blogs about sales, manufacturing, engineering, entrepreneurships and start-ups at Sales Aerobics for Engineers® Blog. Her company, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, teaches technically oriented companies to have customer conversations that are productive and drive revenue.