Making a Great Woodpecker –Farquharson/Tedesco
Two owls are talking, lamenting about how hard it is to find qualified woodpeckers these days. One of the owls grumbles, “Given the state of the economy, you’d think that there’d be a line of them out the door!” to which the other replies, “It’s not like it was back when you and I were out there.”
As they chat, a pair of woodpeckers land on a nearby branch and begin to prospect for food, repeatedly slamming their heads against the tree. Somewhere in the bark is an insect that, according any given Flicker, is a delicacy. Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! They work with diligence and precision. “Is that your guy?” asks the first owl. “Yup,” the second one replies. “And that’s yours, right?” to which the first owl nods in response.
After a few minutes of watching their woodpeckers bang away, one owl asks the other that age-old question: “Are great woodpeckers born or made?” Both owls sit, watch and ponder that query, each considering the wisdom of an answer.
Scientists are divided on the subject. There is a contingent who believe that the qualities that make up a great woodpecker must be present at birth—woven into their DNA. Sure, you need training, but there has to be some “there” there. Others believe that you can teach any given woodpecker to be great, that external factors matter more than internal wiring.
Both camps are firmly entrenched and their tents erected in an “Occupy the Forest” kind of way.
Now, we’re no wise owls, but having slammed our heads on our share of trees (especially before writing this month’s column), your pals T.J. and Bill set out to weigh in on the argument. But, before we attempt to answer the question, it is important to note one word found within the question: Great. The question isn’t about the good woodpecker. We aren’t looking for good and we aren’t willing to settle for good.
Nope. It’s great, or nothing. Achieving good in a woodpecker can be accomplished through training, time and desire. But, people who think that good is good enough eat their seafood from Red Lobster, watch American soccer and have never had Vermont maple syrup (light amber, of course). Moving from good to great, then, takes a number of factors. Let’s look at each one:
1. Drive, Persistence and Motivation—The best woodpeckers rise early and stay late. By the time the rest of the flock shows up, they’ve already been on the job for two hours. In addition, they apply a few more rat-a-tat-tats than the others and, as a result, have a few more bugs in their stomachs to show for it.
Good woodpeckers can have drive, persistence and motivation. All they need is a mortgage for that hole they live in or a wife who wants a condo in Miami for the winters. Great woodpeckers want the condo, too, but their drive comes from a love of bug hunting, not from a desire to escape the snow.
2. The Right Mindset—The approach taken by the good woodpecker is fairly simple: Take aim at bark; drive head into bark. Repeat. The great woodpecker starts out this way as well, but seeing poor results, stops to clear his head and consider the situation: Is this even the right tree? Is this the right/best approach? Are there other tactics or options that might work better? Great woodpeckers have the kind of built-in curiosity that others don’t.
3. Communication #1: Preparation—A great woodpecker takes the time to consider the “personality” of each tree. Not every tree is the same. Some are harsh and withholding. Others are kind and helpful. Some as suspicious and resist change. Others are open to new ideas. The good woodpecker takes the same approach to every tree and, as a result, has as many misses as hits. The great woodpecker looks for clues into a tree’s makeup and style, thereby dramatically increasing his chances at winning the bug du jour.
4. Communication #2: Delivery—The final piece is the message needed to get the point across. A good woodpecker is clear and concise. He has chosen his target and begins the process of banging away, relentlessly searching for his prey. The great woodpecker sees head-banging as one of several options. Others include cutting the tree down or sweet-talking the tree into giving up the bugs’ locations.
Because he understands the communication style of the recipient, the correct choice of message and medium results in a higher and quicker hit rate. Soon, his belly is full and he flies back to the office to report his success to an anxious owl. Meanwhile, the good woodpecker soldiers on.
People say there are less bugs to be had these days. They say you can’t make a living as a woodpecker like you used to. What’s for certain is that the old ways of finding bugs in trees are inadequate for today’s economy. Regardless of whether a woodpecker has the “X factor” that it takes, he can make up for what he lacks in DNA with effort—for the diligent always succeed.
Good can be good enough if the woodpecker has the tenacity....and a LOT of Advil. Great, however, is achieved through, as Apple once said, thinking different. Some have that ability. Some don’t. Most of us just have headaches from banging our heads on a lot of trees.
Or maybe it’s voice mail. PI
About the Authors
Bill Farquharson is the president of Aspire For (www.AspireFor.com). His Sales Challenge can help drive your sales momentum. Contact him at (781) 934-7036 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. T.J. Tedesco is team leader of Grow Sales, a 15-year-old marketing and PR services company. He is author of “Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry” and five other books. Contact Tedesco at (301) 294-9900 or e-mail email@example.com.
Bill Farquharson is a respected industry expert and highly sought after speaker known for his energetic and entertaining presentations. Bill engages his audiences with wit and wisdom earned as a 40-year print sales veteran while teaching new ideas for solving classic sales challenges. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault, are available at salesvault.pro.