Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

A Guide to Becoming a Sales and Marketing Linchpin

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Jun 22, 2010

I loved Seth Godin's latest book Linchpin, but Linchpin is not for everyone.  There is a certain percentage of the population that doesn't want change; hates the concept of personal development - especially when it comes to them, is not interested in new ideas and prefers to pretend like Candide in Voltaire's novel by the same name that - "all must really be for the best and that hard work, linchpinfrom day to day is what life is about."

Linchpin is a must read for anyone interested in improving the quality of their working life and is written in an accessible way that will appeal to a very broad audience.  Seth has written 12 books and his blog is the top rated blog from 150 marketing blogs rated by Advertising Age - if you haven't subscribed yet, you can do so here.

What I really like about this book is that it captures the essence of why change is needed in our society and it identifies what prevents most people from getting the success they crave (the resistance), and offers a formula for success for anyone wanting to create a remarkable future. The Old American Dream was:

  • Keep your head down
  • Follow Instructions
  • Show up on time
  • Work Hard
  • Suck it up...and you will be rewarded.
As we've seen, that dream is over. Seth passionately advocates a move away from the factory model of education, where we teach compliance in our schools to produce workers who are no longer needed as "cogs in the machine", because the cogs are cheaper and more readily exploitable elsewhere.

The new American dream is this:

  • Be remarkable
  • Be generous
  • Create art
  • Make Judgement calls
  • Connect people and ideas.

Seth would like schools to teach a new curriculum for contributors in the new American dream and the key elements are;

1.     Solve interesting problems

2.     Lead

Seth fuses core ideas from human needs psychology into the concept of the "Lizard Brain" or "The Resistance". The Lizard Brain is what keeps us alive, it's responsible for our fight/flight mechanism and is constantly seeking certainty, variety and significance. It's also the thing that holds us back, the thing that has us checking our email 50 times a day to see if anyone sent anything interesting to us, checking our blog traffic and commentary to see if anyone left any comments and said anything nice about us. 

The resistance is also what separates us from our destiny and it show's up as fear:  fear of the unknown, fear of making your own map for your life, fear of failure, fear because you or your ideas could be rejected. Fear shows up in many forms;– one that applies to a lot of us comes is the form of procrastination, which keeps us in the office for 10+ hours a day and leaving work not having achieved anything, but staying busy.

Seth asks, "If you just had just 5 hours to do meaningful work during the day instead of the 10-15 you currently spend, what would you do differently?"

Linchpins feel the fear, acknowledge it and proceed anyway–Seth doesn't tell you how to do this, because its personal and different for everyone, but it is what is needed in today's economy to make a difference.

A Linchpin in sales, makes every encounter with a customer or prospect "art", through giving 100% attention, and engaging through a genuine desire to help solve a problem through domain expertise and the ability to bring the weight of the organization to bear to solve the customer problem - if needed. Linchpins are the top 2-3% of achievers in every sales organization.

The essence of the linchpin, whether they are in sales, marketing, engineering or a volunteer in a non-profit is:-

  1. Providing a unique interface between members of the organization (using emotional labor, finesse and intuition- its not in the manual),
  2. Delivering unique creativity  (meaning they contribute domain expertise, their passion and risk rejection to get the really important stuff done - They SHIP!),
  3. Managing a situation or organization of great complexity (there's no manual, you make it up to achieve a result from great complexity - you make your own map),
  4. Leading Customers (sales and marketing leadership opportunities occur at every touch-point with a customer/consumer/donor,
  5. Inspiring Staff (Linchpins make things happen vs being told what to do and inspire others to take initiative for themselves),
  6. Providing deep domain knowledge (deep domain knowledge by itself is rarely sufficient to become indispensible - combining that knowledge with smart decisions and generous contributions changes things.)
  7. Possessing a Unique Talent (this is one that will make many uncomfortable): if you don't have a unique talent - in the customers World, then the options are to develop the other attributes that make you a linchpin or get a lot better at your unique talent.

Linchpins are CEO's and entrepreneurs who have overcome the fear and are creating their own map, programmers who ship elegant code that works, volunteers with compassion who make a difference. What the World needs is more linchpins, we have an excess of cogs.

I've had the pleasure to work with a number of marketing linchpins in recent consulting engagements...Linchpins don't' talk about what they can do, they do it and they create very significant positive change. Arita Mattsoff at Magic Software is a Linchpin, Yossi Covo at SuperDerivatives is a Linchpin, Holly Allison at VICO Software is a Linchpin.

You too can be a Linchpin; you're not born a Linchpin, it's a choice and it's up to you. I recommend that you buy the book, if you are ready, you will read it many times as it calls to each of us to step up and be who we truly can be.

Topics: sales performance, seth godin

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