During growth or a recession, from CEOs and presidents to sales and marketing managers each is confronted with one of two choices.
- Will we defend, therefore shrink, possibly survive and in the process risk the death of our enterprise?
- Will we fight and take market share from those who choose defense and cannot manage their business?
If the company chooses defense it takes the chance it will save itself into a corporate graveyard. If it survives it will most likely give up a large chunk of its market share to a more aggressive competitor. Those who took the option to simply survive by cutting back on sales and marketing and shrink the company may die a bankrupt death or barely survive to compete. They must rebuild the marketing and sales departments and their credit lines. Their future is bleak, but they may have a future if nothing else than to sell to a competitor who understands the meaning of the word attack.
But we don't have to pay too much attention to the"defender." We should pay all of our attention to those who used their wits and their cunning marketing and sales departments to attack.
General Patton said,
“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more."
If the company makes the crucial decision to avoid defending and fight, it will emerge stronger, healthier and ready for an extraordinary renewed growth. When the recession is over, those who used the four"P's" (price, promotion, product and place) to wrestle, rip, tear and scratch their way to growth, will win by growing their market share (sell more products), even if sales dollars are less, the same or moderately more. Because of their decision to stand and fight during the recession, their post recession years will be blessed with the increased yield that their market share position has given them.
Have you chosen to work for someone with a war like soul?
Through the years I have found that some people have a tendency to attack and some to be timid. In a good marketplace when demand is out-growing capacity there is room for both. But in a down market place there is only room for the quick and the competitive, with few opportunities for leaders who play defense.
After the decision to attack, attack and attack some more, you must decide how you will do it and with whom you will do it. You must find sales and marketing manager's with the same grit and gumption to grow the company that you have. They must be high on the persistence scale because those who are low on persistence die. They must have energy where others have doubt. Again as Patton said,
“Attack rapidly, ruthlessly, viciously, without rest,
however tired and hungry you may be,
the enemy will be more tired, more hungry. Keep punching."
In my business as an interim sales manager I selectively take on new clients who want to compete, have the drive to win and hate failure above all else. They may not know exactly how to combine sales and marketing expertise to grow in the teeth of a recession, but they have the desire. If they have the desire they only need to attack, attack, and attack without rest. I avoid those who just want to defend.
Until the battle begins, you often don't know if you work for the timid or the aggressor. I have watched the meek and the timid turn into aggressive competitors. I have seen the"jocks" of an industry turn in-ward and fail. There is only one way to tell who you are dealing with and whether you have a winner for a leader or a disappointment. You ask them.
You look them in their eyes and you ask what if they have made a decision to survive and grow or just survive and maybe depart the marketplace. If they look away from you, or downward, if they hesitate and look apologetic excuse yourself and don't look back.
If they look to you and glare, if they lean forward or stand, if their voice is firm and determined, if there is anger and determination in their voice, ah, then you have met the one out of one hundred that will attack, attack and attack again. Defense is so offensive to them, that this is the person you will go to war with. No other deserves your skill and determination. They have a warlike soul. Whether this is a person you hire or a person you work for, either way you want them on your team.
Of course, attack is always a struggle, but it will come easier than you think by hiring the right people, creating an aggressive marketing and sales plan and walking the talk. In closing, I rely on Patton again, who said,
“In war the only sure defense is offense,
and the efficiency of the offense depends
on the warlike souls of those conducting it."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James W. Obermayer is the President of Sales Leakage Consulting, and the founder and executive director of the Sales Lead Management Association. He is a four-time book author and a motivational speaker on sales and marketing topics. Obermayer was a U.S. Infantry Lieutenant during the Viet Nam war.