Lessons from 007: There’s an unlikely relationship between James Bond and business

Luck may well play a part, but it’s skills that really matter – for Bond and salespeople (Source: Getty)
As Spectre hits the big screens this week, many will be looking out for the hallmark gadgets of the Bond films – the exploding pen, the hidden microphone or the mini-rocket cigarette that gets 007 out of many a tight corner on his missions.
Bond always manages to extricate himself from sticky situations that ensnare other, less creative agents. While there’s often a bit of luck involved, his ability to emerge victorious also takes quite a bit of skill, thoughtful planning and ingenuity.

UNLIKELY PARALLEL?

Today’s salespeople find themselves in similar (though not quite so dangerous) quandaries: navigating the ever-expanding set of customer stakeholders who need to weigh in on a purchase decision. CEB research shows that the average number of stakeholders needed to give their penny’s worth on a purchase decision is 5.4 – all representing different functions and perspectives.
The result? These internal groups end up agreeing on priorities like reducing cost, and avoiding risk and disruption. This means that the average salesperson is always in danger of losing to the status quo – or worse, losing the deal altogether.
But while the uninspired will invariably end up ensnared in this consensus trap, the high performer will sidestep disaster with Bond-esque aplomb. And just like 007, CEB’s research shows that it’s skill – not luck – that explains why top sellers emerge victorious.
So how do high performers win big sales?

FIND THE QS

First, they don’t target talkers, but “mobilisers”. Mobilisers are often supplier agnostic and harder to convince, but once you have them hooked on an idea, they will help drive your solution forward and ensure a successful sale. Q’s unrelenting knowledge and passion for the gadgets he works with sways Bond into using them, and they often save the day. Take for instance the hidden ejector seat button that enables Bond to escape in his Aston Martin in Goldfinger.

THE INWARD EYE

Second, they grasp how customers think their business works. Salespeople must understand their customer’s thought processes and how they perceive the company they work for, in order to offer tangible and appropriate solutions to problems their clients might not be aware of.
By learning about Camille’s own childhood traumatic encounter with general Medrano in Quantum of Solace, Bond is able to offer her a realistic chance of achieving her personal vendetta. While they clash at first, Camille soon realises that Bond is the only one she can trust, and they team up to complete the mission.

NEVER SAY NEVER

Third, the first-rate salesperson will then teach their customers new things about their business. They must replace clients’ often flawed perspectives of how their company should operate with a clearer view and the right course of action.
Doing this successfully will gain them respect and, ultimately, the sale. When Bond and M meet for the first time in Goldeneye, M senses Bond’s scepticism of her ability to make the right decisions. She delivers a ruthless speech detailing her lack of qualms over sending him to his death, which wins his respect and subsequent determination to complete the mission.
Following these 007 tips will give you the right tools to improve your chance of providing answers to the organisations you work with. While Bond certainly has a knack of escaping impossible situations while keeping his cool, were it not for his Aston Martin or Walther PPK, he, like any ordinary civil servant, may well not have found things so easy.

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