The classic movie, Casablanca, ends with Captain Renault telling his officers, “Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects!” Captain Renault knows exactly who shot Major Strasser, but for his own reasons he has no interest in arresting him. He merely needs to manage the appearance of an investigation. Unfortunately, too many sales managers approach sales initiatives in the same manner. “We have a sales emergency. Round up the usual prospects!” Also like Captain Renault, these managers essentially facilitate their organization’s eventual demise.
Meanwhile, guerilla competitors are getting away with their zealous quest for establishing a new world order… or at least a new marketplace hierarchy. Simply maintaining market share status quo is no longer an option. Entrepreneurial start-ups and never-say-die incumbents engage in increasingly narrow niches. Competitive chaos is the new reality. Consequently, complacent market leadership is a modern death march!
New Rules of Engagement
Launching sales campaigns highlighting your inner guerilla require battling on every front with innovation and creativity. Every single prospect-facing skirmish is someone’s most important conflict. If you plan on winning, combat requires new rules. Get improved competitive intelligence. The landscape changes quickly. Substitute the three-martini lunch for the high gravity craft beer fest. Old friends are not necessarily the best customers. They are also under attack internally and externally by younger, nimbler competition both corporately and personally. Identify the new decision makers, who are attending the newer networking events. Take your team to South by Southwest. Send your regrets to the IBM User Conference. And bring a younger colleague. If you hired well, prepare to be presently surprised with who knows someone that recently received funding.
Serve, Serve, Sell
Melinda Emerson, known as SmallBizLady, emphatically exhorts her followers, “Serve, serve, sell!!” So, start serving new opportunities! Serve, serve, sell is not a giveaway. It requires providing personalized value to the new prospect with full expectation to deliver paid services in the near future. Even in the new, evolving landscape, referrals remain the most cost-effective way to grow revenue. Have established colleagues and customers point you toward upcoming enterprises. Your industry insiders know who is a legitimate threat to the old order. Get Old Faithful to make an introduction. Earn new business by listening and understanding the individualized problem you solve. Patiently explain your singular solution. Successful sales require resolving a painful prospect problem with your carefully crafted solution. Serve them before you sell them. Then, consistently over-deliver so they never look elsewhere again!
In Casablanca, after Captain Renault dispatched his minions to round up the usual suspects, he went rogue. He boldly walked into the fog pursuing more unconventional adventures… most likely successfully. Conversely, sales initiatives chasing the usual prospects will typically result in the sales leader fading into oblivion. Casablanca had no sequel. Neither will the sales leader that uses old tactics to fight new market battles.
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Mo Patton Sports, LLC
Principal of Hunter & Beyond