What My Neighbor’s Dog Taught Me About Sales Enablement

Neil Baron

A few years ago, my two children and I really wanted a dog.  However, my wife was dead-set against getting one. So since our house is a democracy, except that my wife gets four votes, she outvoted us and we did not get a dog.

Shortly after this decision was made, our neighbors got a new puppy. They felt he would be a good companion for their wheelchair-bound daughter, Delaney. 

However, my neighbor is a commercial pilot and travels a lot. The puppy, Cody, became too much for them to handle. 

So to help them out, I began to walk Cody regularly. My relationship with Cody grew into a dog-sharing arrangement. This has become a wonderful experience for everyone.

During one of our weekend walks, Cody stopped in front of a large house. Another small dog (Dutchie) bolted out of the house to say hello to Cody. And running after the dog was the dog’s owner. While the dogs got to know each other, the owner and I started talking.

It turns out that he was Fred , CEO of a medical device company. When Fred asked me what I do, I replied, “I am a consultant who helps technology companies, including medical device companies, avoid the deadly dozen pitfalls that can kill a product.” 

With rising curiosity he inquired, “what are the deadly dozen?”  I answered that while I don’t have time to list all of them, one critical pitfall is having a value proposition that doesn’t resonate with the target market. He mentioned that they were struggling with their value proposition and invited me to meet with his management team. Soon, I had a new client. 

While I was the one who “closed” the deal,  I realize Cody played a key role in my acquisition of this exciting new client. 

There are a lot of parallels between Cody’s contribution to this success and how an effective marketing organization should enable the sales team. 

A closer look at what happened.
We walked in a neighborhood with a lot of large, expensive homes. It was no surprise that we met a CEO.  In other words, we fished where the fish were.

Cody built a relationship with a non-decision maker (Dutchie). However, Dutchie had enough influence with the decision maker to get him out of the house. If I just knocked on Fred’s door without Cody, he would have told me to get lost.

When I explained to Fred my reasons for walking Cody, I immediately built trust and credibility in his eyes. As Fred told me later, anyone who helps out a neighbor by walking their dog will likely also take good care of his clients.

Once Cody generated awareness, I was able to raise Fred’s level of curiosity and anxiety about his situation by mentioning the “deadly dozen pitfalls”.

I had enough experience and knowledge to conduct an intelligent conversation to further enhance my credibility and his level of need.

Some of the questions that effective B2B marketing and product people should ask themselves are:

Do you provide the sales team with enough detail about the ideal target prospect that they know where to look? Or does the sales team waste time looking for the wrong people in all the wrong places?

Do you provide the sales team with the right tools to build relationships with the key influencers and enable them to give the senior decision maker a reason to pay attention?  Do your “campaigns” attract the right people or repel them?

Do you provide the sales team with stories to build trust and credibility? Or are they left to their own devices?

Do you provide the sales team with the facts, phrases and questions to generate an emotional response from the prospect without sounding threatening?

Do you empower the sales team to have an intelligent conversation with the prospect once they show interest?

If you want to increase sales productivity, you can instruct your sales team to go walk their neighbors’ dogs or you can ensure that your marketing and product people provide them with the direction and tools they need to succeed.

Neil Baron, above with Cody, is managing director of Baron Strategic Partners, a business management consulting firm.