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What Does Carpentry Have To Do With Sales?

by David Brock on September 4th, 2009

I’m an unabashed Do It Yourself-er.  I think a large part of it is that I love tools and hanging around hardware stores.  My workshop (that’s what I call that space in my garage) is filled with all sorts of tools.  When I was in college, I started buying tools.  That’s when we were into Carpentry 1.0.  I’d buy the best quality chisels I could find.  I’d buy hammers, saws, levels, everything.  Part of the reason I bought great quality hand tools, is that I worked my way through college as a carpenter.  I learned that good tools, well maintained helped me do my job.  I worked for some contractors and coveted some of the great power and air tools they had  — they were the early adopters of Carpentry 2.0.

Over time, I started acquiring the Carpentry 2.0 tools.  I think I’m on Drills 2.76 (battery power, variable, reversible, key-less, with safety torque–and in bright Makita blue with its own storage box).  I’ve managed to collect quite a few of the Carpentry 2.0 tools., I have all sorts of power saws, routers, sanders, planers, and other sorts of things.  I buy them for several reasons.  I have to admit, they look really cool and my envious neighbors want to borrow them.  The real reason I buy them, is they make any project much easier to do.  I can accomplish more in the same period of time than I can with the Carpentry 1.0 tools.  In some cases I can do things that would have been very difficult (at least for me) with the old tools.  In some cases, I think they improve the quality of the work, but really they help me be much more efficient.  At the end of a long day, I’m much less tired since they do make the job easier.

I have noticed a problem with Carpentry 2.0 tools.  They allow me to make much bigger mistakes much faster than I could to with the older tools.  I don’t know how many times, I destroyed a good piece of lumber because I made a sloppy measurement and a quick cut on the saw.  A few months ago I built a deck  and almost destroyed 22 pieces of very expensive decking because I cut them 1.62 inches too short—well now I have a shorter deck.  I didn’t do this very often with the older tools, mainly because with a handsaw, things went a little slower and somehow caused me to be more thoughtful.  I might make a mistake on one piece of decking, but not on all 22.   But the new tools make it so easy, that I find that if I’m not very careful, I make more mistakes.

Much to my chagrin and bruised ego, I’ve discovered all the Carpentry 2.0 tools haven’t made me a master carpenter.  I’m just a weekend carpenter, but I work pretty fast.  However, I’m constantly amazed watching a master carpenter.  There’s something about the way they think about a project.  The way the plan a project, the way they look how things go together and sequencing tasks.  Regardless what tools they use, there is a focus, elegance, and efficiency in the way they work.  The quality of the result can be astounding.  They use the same tools I do, but somehow, the result is still far superior–and they have been more efficient.  Somehow, I had hoped my own investment in Carpentry 2.0 tools would cover my lack of skill.

None of the tools, Carpentry 1.0 and Carpentry 2.0 help me think about what I am doing.  I still have to come up with the design, I still have to come up with the project plan, I still have to select the materials.  There are some things that help me do it, but fundamentally, I have to do the thinking.  The tools are just there to help me do the project as quickly as possible.

Last weekend I was doing a project and my old school tools and Carpentry 2.0 tools got me to thinking.  Aren’t there a lot of parallels between Carpentry and Sales—at least from a tools point of view?   Technology and sales tools help me be more efficient.  They do enable me to do things that may have been very difficult, time consuming or expensive in the past.  They help me do things, I probably would have not done in the past, so they can improve my performance and give me new capability. 

The Sales 2.0 tools offer tremendous potential.  As an example, Customer analytics can be very powerful, organizations can get tremendous insight.  But to use these tools effectively, you have to be thinking about the right questions.  You have to build effective models.  Finally, you have to know how to interpret and apply the results they provide.  Applied incorrectly, these tools can provide disastrous results.  Likewise, any of the other tools, in the hands of thoughtful sales and marketing people can produce tremendous results.  But just as easily, applied thoughtlessly or inappropriately, they produce disastrous results very efficiently.

I will always be a gadget freak.  I’m anxiously looking forward to Carpentry 3.0.  I can fill my shop with even more cool tools.  It won’t make me a master carpenter, to do that I need to train myself and learn to think differently.  I need to become much more knowledgeable about construction, wood and other materials, work flow and project management. 

Likewise I’m a Sales 2.0 freak.  I like the tools, I see great potential for myself and many of my clients.  There is a lot of talk about the tools and what they can do, how they can enable us to connect in new ways, how they can enable us to be more efficient.  I am concerned about the relatively low level of talk about mastery of the profession of Sales.  We need to work on developing Master Sales Professionals.  We need to advance the way we think and behave, we need to become more knowledgeable, not just about selling, but about business, about our customer’s industries, about our customers, and about our own company.  We need to understand and optimize our selling processes, we need to be selective about how we use tools, so that we apply them in a way that magnifies our impact and results.

Well, it’s Friday, I’ve got to put together a list of materials and head to the hardware store.  I have a project for tomorrow—new bookshelves in the office.  I’m anxious to visit the hardware store, I heard about this cool new wall mount system……Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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  1. Have been researching some new tools to buy for my carpentry company and I came across this article. I couldn’t stop reading, so much of this resonated deeply with me. Acquiring new tools for woodworking can become near obsessive at points, and although it can be quite comical how we strive to constantly maintain the best tools available, the truth is, the right tools make the job so much easier. Not only do they make it easier, but the end product is of higher quality as well. This post is older now but I had a good time reading it. Cheers

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