A pair of pop culture events have sparked my selling synapses this week.
From an American courtroom emerged the baffling decision that Marvin Gaye’s sublime 1977 recording Got To Give It Up was shamelessly ripped off by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for their 2013 mega-hit, Blurred Lines.
Yet the songs are patently not the same.
For further reading, terrific informed opinion comes from a member of 90s gentle electronic troupe St Etienne, who understands the classic Sir Isaac Newton wisdom, “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Then this insightful experience of a band manager pulls back the curtain on aspects of the creative process to put the Gaye claimants in their place.
As one states, there are only 12 notes.
What chance total originality?
Then news that 85-million selling fantasy author Terry Pratchett succumbs to dementia. His appearances across the media I noted for his brightly illuminative language.
From the glittering torrent of quotes flooding screens at this time, one particularly caught my eye.
When asked about his influences, with a perceived slant on his own ‘borrowings’ from the founders of his genre, he replied simply;
“Everyone makes their cake from the same ingredients”
These two stories expose the same truth.
You carefully prepare a recipe from a celebrity chef. But the cake fails to rise to expectations.
You may have followed the exact recipe, in precise amounts, blended and baked with undoubted accuracy. But a resulting flavour and appearance at odds with the glossy photo’s expectations.
And so it is with selling.
How many ways are there to pitch a product? Intro yourself on a cold call? Present to a Board?
Whilst the basics may appear fairly standard, how confident are you that you’re using the best ingredients?
Likewise, when you take inspiration from someone else’s supposed expertise, what are you doing to add your own tailoring to it and let your personality shine through?
In my sales knowledge management days I was constantly astounded at how little interest most salespeople took in the best-practice of their peers. An utter disgrace. One which shames our profession.
In my book, appropriation is a marvel. The winning and all-too-often overlooked huge space between slavish imitation and outright innovation.
Apply it to your process and your cake will be on everyone’s lips.