When it comes to the battle of wills, there are two types of salesman profiles that take the charge. The “everything-is-negotiable, let-it-roll salesman”, and the “bigger-the-bet, the-bigger-the-reward” risk taker.

The Gordon Gekkos and the Elon Musks.

The Gordon Gekko Salesman Archetype

If you’re reading this, you’re in one of two camps. You have no idea who Gordon Gekko is, or your entire world of business is shaped by this type of person, for better or for worse. Basically, if you were alive in the 80s, you can’t forget this memorable character.

Gordon is known by this one-liner of all one-liners: “Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good”. Or, to use it in its shorthand fashion, “Greed is good”. The film, Wall Street (the 80’s version – I personally don’t recognize any “redos” of films that never needed to be redone), which should be on your short list of business ethics films, tells the story of unbridled greed in the Wall street finance market.

The basic ethos is that Gordon will stop at nothing to get more and to go further, even to the point of manipulation. They’ve called him the “corporate psychopath” due to the insane nature of this character. He lies, he cheats, he steals, he does any and everything to get more for himself.

Now, I hope none of you have this full-blown character in your organizations, but if people in your business match up to any of these descriptors, you might have little Gekkos running around:

  • They are working situations and deals to get the most for themselves.
  • You admire their drive and desire to get more, because it elevates your business, but it does not do well internally.
  • You let them do what they want because they get results, but if you try to put a leash on them they snap back quickly.
  • They might not lie, exactly, but they might promise more than you can handle internally or set up expectations that need to be figured out later.
  • They are, frankly, intimidating.

The Elon Musk Salesman Type

The world is somewhat enamored with this guy. They love that he has some cool companies and that he’s changing the face of the entire automotive industry and solar industry. But they love more the fact that he is seriously trying to put life on Mars. I don’t think anyone doubts that he will do it, but most will stand back and say “why” in the long run. He’s driven, to say the least, and he’s made a wreck of his personal life to do it. He’s tried to systemize his entire life, and he’s done a pretty good job of it.

It takes a lot to lead this type of effort, and he gets credit for doing a pretty good job. And he is (at least, when he’s not tweeting at 2am) masterful at the media, leading them around like puppies to his every whim. For whatever else you can say about him, he’s got big plans.

Here’s how you might identify the Elons in the office.

  • They are very driven and have big goals – bigger than you might think possible.
  • They are socially awkward, or, even more so, do not handle people well at all.
  • If they could choose to be a robot, they might.
  • They are extremely innovative, and always an asset in a problem-solving scenario.
  • They can set too-high expectations for themselves and others

How Marketing Helps Gekkos

The Gordon Gekko types think marketing is the first offensive, and are usually very pro-marketing focused as sales guys. The warmer the reception from a sales perspective, the less work they have to do to get the results they desire.

Yet because they can come off as a bit intimidating, your marketing and messaging can go a great distance toward establishing the core of your company values before Gordon arrives. Additionally, it can help keep the offerings in line with what you want to offer, instead of pushing the limits of what is feasible. Gekkos in a solution sale can be a dream – or your worst nightmare. They could move a 30K deal into the 100K range, or over-promise and far extend what you can do to add another 50K on top of that deal. Marketing will keep them in line with reality, and create a real balance to your marketing efforts. Use your website to align your offerings and your social media marketing to keep your core values in front of your customer to avoid the slide.

How Marketing Helps Musks

These guys rarely need any assistance to get the job done; they are typically adverse to marketing unless they have created it. Everyone else’s ideas are bunk, and they’d rather go it alone in client communication.

Musk types are great to include in the marketing conversation around messaging and creative. They have a vision for the marketing, as well as a vision on how you should do your job, and how everyone else should at the company, too. They are full of vision, and many times full of expectations that are out of reach as well. Including them helps let them be heard and agree upon the marketing approach that they have to sell.

Additionally, they are best suited to be the innovators in the marketing campaigns. They are adaptive to new technologies, like Loom, or ABM. They want as much advantage in the game as possible and are willing to be the testers.

Yet, they tend to forget the basics of human interaction and lose the human aspect of messaging and marketing. They will need lots of help with social media and some good coaching through that up-ramp. They might have a lot to say, but if they say it wrong, it could be the overall end of their accounts.

Marketing, for the Lack of a Better Word, Is Good.

I hope you were able to see how to identify these two types, and see how marketing can best be used to amplify results without letting these two dominating forces run wreckage over your business. Well-guided, and supported with marketing, your Gekkos and Musks can ignite your sales quarter to new levels.