Saved from the discard pile

So, a couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post for work that they ended up vetoing. It made me sad as I had a great time writing the post and was rather proud of it. Instead I was told it went right over their heads (yep, they used that phrase). Since I didn’t want it to disappear into the trash pile of discarded blogs I decided to post it here instead (with appropriate revisions). Enjoy!

(written March 3, 2011)
I was struck by a fascinating realization this morning and I can’t resist the urge to get all philosophical for a blog entry.

Making a sale is very similar to the Hero’s Journey as described by Joseph Campbell.

You may not be familiar with the phrase “Hero’s Journey” but you’re probably very familiar with the concept. Campbell described the Journey as having several distinct stages that can be identified in stories, myths, movies, and so on.

The basic steps of the Hero’s Journey:

The steps are often broken down into these stages:

  • Call to adventure (possible refusal)
  • Supernatural aid
  • Point of no return
  • Trials (Meeting with the goddess, Woman as Temptress, Redemption or meeting with Father)
  • Final Battle (possible physical or spiritual death)
  • Return with greater knowledge

Let’s take Star Wars as an example:

Star Wars

A New Hope

The hero, Luke Skywalker, is called to adventure by R2D2, C3PO and Obi Wan. Obi Wan gives him a gift and tells him briefly about the Force before asking Luke to travel with him. Luke initially refuses but reaches a point of no return that keeps him from going back home. He agrees to travel with Obi Wan. Luke faces several trials. He meets Leia (meeting with the goddess). He loses the physical presence of his guide and battles (and destroys) the first Death Star. Later he faces and feels the presence of the Dark Side while studying with Yoda (woman as temptress). Luke meets his father and first denies it after losing his hand.

He returns later with a great sense of peace, the knowledge that Leia is his sister and faces a greater challenge. He is willing to sacrifice himself to give his friends and allies the chance to destroy the Death Star. At the same time he is able to “atone” with his father. He then escapes from the Death Star and returns to celebrate the downfall of the Empire with his friends, knowing that his guides and his father have reached a state of peace that he can then teach to others in the future.

Making the Hero’s Journey in Sales…

The process of making a sale can often be very similar. The salesman is given a quest, to make a sale. He’s handed a special gift (samples, kits, catalogs) that will help him along his journey. He ventures forth and finds a client and proceeds to work with them to make a sale. The various trials that he must go through might be an initial meeting with the client, working to find the best products for their needs and then working with a factory to get those products made quickly to meet the clients’ specifications. There might be temptation to take an easier route, a longer lunch, to put the work off till another day but these temptations are faced and put aside. Once the journey is complete with the final product in the client’s hands, the sales person may find that they not only have a better knowledge and relationship with their client but they are now better equipped to make the next sale and the one after that.

Of course, all of this may now bring to mind a mental image of heading out to a sales call with a lightsaber at your side. Depending on your client, that might be a point in your favor.

It’s interesting to see how the Hero’s Journey can be applied to so many things in everyday life.

~ by rumielf on March 18, 2011.

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