Mike Gomez is President and CEO of The Motum Group, a large complex sales advisory firm based in Atlanta, Ga. Mike has an accumulated sales record in excess of $10B. He has led and won multiple international, large, complex sales campaigns for aerospace giants McDonnell Douglas, Boeing and Lockheed.
In addition to his work with The Motum Group, Mike guest lectures at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech and serves as a mentor with Atlanta Tech Village and the Four Athens Tech Incubator.
I was a salesperson for McDonnell Douglas, Boeing and Lockheed, selling military jet fighters to our foreign allies. We regularly competed either against our in-country rivals (F/A-18 (Boeing) vs F-16 (Lockheed)) or against offerings by the French (Mirage), the Russians (MiG), or the Sweden/UK (Gripen).
By “led” I mean I was the campaign manager given the responsibility and accountability to lead a team and produce the win. My job was to not only be the most knowledgeable person in the company about this particular customer and their military and economic development challenges but also to devise and present the best solutions and the strategy for earning their business.
A year after closing this large complex sale I was asked to take over the role as Program Manager. This entailed ensuring the execution of this project to deliver 25 jets, spare parts, training, support equipment, and a software development facility to this foreign Government.
He wanted to shake my hand. I humbly accepted his handshake, but I was puzzled and asked him why.
As it turned out, he had learned I was the salesperson responsible for the F-15 jet he was building. He wanted to thank me for the win. I was taken aback.
He went on to say that because of that win and the resultant backlog to the F-15 production line he would have a job until retirement and that he would also have the means to finish putting his two kids through college.
For this he was grateful and wanted to personally thank me for the effort it took to win that competition. I’ll admit that meeting shook me up.
At that moment, I realized these highly trained men and women had no say in the strategy choices we made, the thousands of presentations we gave, the consultants we hired, or the demonstrations we conducted.
They had no voice at all, yet they were the most vulnerable if we failed at our job. We routinely used job figures to explain to Congress the impact of their domestic military aircraft buying decisions.
I guess I just never connected the figures on the page with real people. At least, I hadn’t until this one very personal encounter.
At that time there were roughly 100 people who were directly involved in some way with the military aircraft sales process. Yet the engineers, manufacturing personnel, buyers of material, parts and supplies, building maintenance, security, and test pilots represented thousands of lives whose jobs depended on that small sales team.
The number of lives impacted grows to tens of thousands if you consider their families and the direct impact their salaries have on the local economy (grocery stores, auto dealers, restaurant, etc.). The figures get even more significant when you roll in the jobs of those who do sub-contracting work (engine manufacturers, etc.) and those who are impacted by the company’s stock price (retirees, investors, etc.).
Whether you’re selling a software solution to a manufacturing company or constructing a new baseball stadium, real people’s lives are impacted by how well you perform.
Learn your craft. Become a servant to your customer. Earn his/her respect by solving their problems. And if you need additional motivation, know that what you choose to do—no matter what that may be—affects more lives than you realize.