May the 4th Be With You! Stormtroopers Aren’t Bad Shots: Lessons for Sales Leaders

In honor of May the 4th, we’re asking an age-old question. Any Star Wars fan has wondered the same thing: Why are Stormtroopers such bad shots? Luke Skywalker and Han Solo could be standing 10 feet away in a narrow corridor of the Death Star, with a 7-foot-5-inch hairy Wookiee next to them, and every bright red blaster shot is so far off the mark that it’s laughable.

It makes you wonder, “Are these soldiers really that inept?”

We’re not sure if we’ll ever get a straight answer. But as Dr. Drea Letamendi and Dr. David Solot posed on a recent Disruptors & Innovators podcast, are Stormtroopers really a bunch of bad shots, or are we just seeing them in crisis events that they’re not properly trained for? Furthermore, how does this relate to sales rep competency in similar situations — minus blasters, helmets, and Jedi, of course?

Defending the poor Stormtroopers for a quick sec!

Perhaps we’ve been holding Stormtroopers to an odd standard this whole time. After all, they spend 90% of their time on basic guard duty, trying their best not to mess up and get Force choked. And when they are shooting, it’s at rebel soldiers or civilians — many of whom are easy targets and react in a very “traditional” way.

The audience doesn’t see that, though. Instead, we only care to remember when they shoot at the heroes. And that’s a very different situation. Shooting at Jedi is an even more unique experience.

  1. They don’t see Jedi often.
  2. Jedi can use The Force to reflect blaster bolts.
  3. Jedi behave differently than Stormtroopers expect.
  4. You can’t train for a Jedi … because, well, you’re not a Jedi.

Stormtroopers may be competent at their job in most situations. But this is a crisis, and what you have is a group of homogenous soldiers who are suddenly faced with a situation for the first time. They can’t turn to each other for advice, so they’re just following along blindly, and none of their previous training prepared them for something like this.

How does this relate to sales rep competency?

Something Dr. Solot said in the podcast is that he’d love to see Stormtroopers have a Jedi hologram to train against. This could be very beneficial, with the understanding that “Hey, this is the really hard part. You may only see Luke Skywalker once. And if you don’t want it to be the last thing you see, you need to practice and understand that this is a different skillset than the skillset you normally practice against.”

This ties directly back to sales rep competency and how we handle an employee in crisis. If you think about what a salesperson does daily, most of their job involves prospecting. It’s making a lot of calls, and it’s a lot of trying to get a sales process started. By nature, only a few customers or prospects make it to the end of the funnel to close a deal. So naturally, they’re getting a lot less practice on the end of the funnel than they are at the beginning of the funnel.

These are highly critical skills because you’re at the point in a sales conversation where it’s going to decide if you get the sale or not. But many times, they have the least experience with it:

  • How do they handle a situation with a client they’ve never seen before?
  • What should they do when the conversation doesn’t go in a “traditional” way?
  • How do they handle an objection they’ve never heard before?

Rather than look at them as incompetent soldiers, we should put them in a position to be as successful as possible. The more grooved their sales behaviors are — even in unique situations — the better they’ll do. At Sciolytix, we are big advocates of using consequence-free simulations to do this. There’s no consequence. No manager is judging you. It’s not one of your top clients. You’re free to explore your skillset and behaviors and work on trying things a different way until that feels natural.


Author: David Solot

David Solot, Ph.D., is Chief Science Officer & Senior Vice President of Product Management at Sciolytix.