The Vulture & The Eagle: A Sales Parable


It’s probably never been great etiquette to speak about ‘killing’ customers beyond the walls of investment banking firms prior to the last financial crash, but wild creatures offer so much scope for comparison to salespeople that I hope you’ll forgive it this time.

The majority of salespeople, it has to be said, are still more like vultures than eagles. But unlike those wild birds which are born into their roles, for salespeople – and people of all walks of course – it is a choice you’re able to make. Consider these differences and see which most resembles your sales approach:

The Eagle

Eagles are magnificent hunters. They are the supreme beings in their environment not only because they have great strength but because they are excellent at spotting an opportunity and have the instincts to make it count in a very short space of time. Their role is to kill in order to eat and that means they must constantly be on the lookout for new things to kill, every day. Prospecting is a constant in the eagle’s life because without that they will simply starve to death.

The Vulture

It is no surprise the term ‘vulture’ applies to people who prey on others. Think of the tow truck drivers that line the streets of Johannesburg … for right or wrong they have a terrible reputation because their principal method of action is to wait until someone is in distress and then swoop down on them, often in large competing packs, to seize on the opportunity. That’s what vultures do in nature. They wait for something else – usually a wild cat such as a lion for example – to kill their prey and then they grab what they can off whatever remains off the carcass. Other than that, they sit in a tree all day, waiting for a call (or a roar) to tell them there could be some picking to do.

Now both of these creatures in nature are exceptional, and they both serve a very valuable purpose. But only the eagle creates its own destiny every day, where the vulture is completely dependent on a random lion to have a successful hunt so that it may prey on the leftovers. It can’t be all that satisfying. No wonder vultures are grumpy.

Taking out the excessively negative connotations, are you more like a vulture than an eagle when you go to work? Are you more inclined to hope an opportunity comes your way, rather than going out and looking for new ones? There is merit in the work both of these birds do in nature, but consider this as a final thought: only one of them is the national bird of the world’s only superpower. The other … well he gets compared to tow truck drivers.

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