Friday, July 2, 2010

Are you ready to cross the Delaware?

As we head into the Independence Day celebrations it is worth noting how in the winter of 1776 it seemed highly unlikely there would ever be any independence to celebrate. George Washington and his continental army had suffered defeat after defeat and had been forced to retreat through New Jersey into Pennsylvania. Morale was low, desertion high and the prospects for reenlistment remote. But rather than succumb to what seemed the inevitable, Washington decided that winning a victory, any victory and soon was critical to turning things around. To this end he carefully re-examined his options and found a target in the wintering Hessians at Trenton. If he could rally the continental army and get them to Trenton he was confident that surprise and superior numbers would carry the day. So he set off on that famous crossing of the Delaware and the rest as they say is history.

But what has this got to do with sales you might be asking yourself? It is simple really, sometimes in sales when you are in tough times and suffering one deal loss after another, you too need a victory, any victory. Too often the temptation is to redouble your efforts and chase every deal twice as hard in the hope that the law of averages or lady luck will carry the day. I liken this approach to Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, throwing everything into grand but futile gestures when the chances of success are practically zero.

Rather you need to adopt the Washington strategy. First take a new, hard look at all the opportunities you have. Second dismiss all the ones that you really don't stand a realistic chance of winning. Third park the ones that you have a somewhat reasonable chance at, you can come back to them with fresh vigor when you are used to winning again. Fourth pick that opportunity that you have the best chance of winning and remember it doesn't have to be the biggest or the most strategic but it does need to be one that you have a better than average chance of winning if you over-resource it. Fifth over-resource it.

It has been proven time and again that winning can become a habit and as you head into the second half of 2010, find your Trenton, cross the Delaware and commit your resources to securing the win. Then use it as a springboard to conquer the rest of your territory or segment.

Happy 4th - and may you achieve independence this year!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent commentary! So true! Having said that, the difference between a leader and a GREAT leader is the ability to inspire the "troops" to cross the water with you. Can leaders be trained to be great?!