Sales Leadership: The Cantilever Principle and Fallingwater

The Cantilever Principle and Heroic Selling. What we learn from Falling water.  

Frank Lloyd Wright’s house, Falling water, is a breathtaking architectural accomplishment – Wright constructed a house over a river, at the point of a waterfall.

Visiting Falling water – now a museum – is a thrilling experience. Two cantilevered terraces sweep out majestically into space over the waterfall, seemingly floating in the air. Falling water suggests a vision for humankind’s heroic potential.

The principle of the cantilever – supporting a beam at only one end – requires a deep, foundation level of support. One might say it requires strong roots.

The cantilever is a powerful metaphor for our challenge in “Heroic Selling.”  The salesperson must have strong personal belief and skill sets (the foundation), then fearlessly step out into uncertainty (the cantilever).

There is a yin and yang oscillation in effect between the foundation and the unsupported space.

The salesperson draws strength from personal values, past success, company reputation the strength of the product/service being sold. This is the foundation of the cantilever.

“When the sales team and company leadership work together, the cantilevered business development program can deliver 25-50 percent sales growth.”

Then the salesperson steps out into harm’s way – the unsupported end of the cantilever -facing prospects who:

  1. Are not paying attention
  2. Do not believe what we say
  3. Often do not know how to make a decision

And this presumes no active competition.

The heroic salesperson is out there, the unsupported beam in the cantilever, making a compelling case for the company.

His or her basic, sometimes only tools are: integrity, relentlessness, fearlessness, self-confidence and – if fortunate where supplied by the company – a strong standard sales call.

When a salesperson acts on these values, selling is a heroic endeavor. This is what we should expect of salespeople.

In return, what must the company provide to support the cantilevered heroic salesperson?

The company must provide a strong:

  1. Product or service with an inescapable argument and a defendable position
  2. Customer support program
  3. Standard sales call
  4. Sales management system

The product or service with an inescapable argument demands assent from a prospect. The defendable position means the heroic salesperson won’t close the sale for a competitor.

A standard sales call is a step-by-step procedure to attract, educate and get engagement from prospects, leading to a “must have” decision.

A proper sales management system benchmarks success against the standard sales call, with measurable intermediate results.

When the sales team and company leadership work together, the cantilevered business development program can deliver 25-50 percent sales growth.

It doesn’t take a village. It takes a cantilever.