Thanks to Barnes & Noble’s Steve Falke, I had the
opportunity to recently read D.P. Forrester’s Consider (2011). Forrester’s
basic premise, reinforced by anecdotes throughout the book, is that we have
surrendered the fundamental human need for deep reflection in a race to act.
Put another way, we are so busy answering e-mails and trying to multitask, we
have no time to think. The result is a rash of stupid decisions and costly errors
ranging from the BP oil spill to the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
It is not my purpose to review the book here, other than
to commend it for a late summer read. Rather, I’d like to pull one example from
Consider upon which I can draw an
analogy to this blog’s theme of selling.
By summer 2006, to all honest observers, including senior
military leaders like Generals Mattis and Petraeus, it was clear that the war
in Iraq was not going well. Americans were being killed in increasing numbers
and the new Iraqi regime exhibited no clear signs of being able to govern.
Amidst the chaos of the war these two generals and other
top military officials took time to reflect and consider a new approach that
eventually transformed how the war in Iraq was fought. One illustration of a
radical shift was how the military related to the civilian population. In the
early years of the war, US troops kept as much distance as possible. The
transformed approach had them working with and living with the Iraqi people.
One of the central pieces of the dialogue that changed
the military mindset was a list of paradoxes
they had learned including:
- Sometimes the more you protect your force,
the less secure you may be
- Sometimes the more force you use, the less
effective it is
- Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction
- The host nation doing something tolerably is
normally better than us doing it well
- If a tactic works this week, it may not work
- Tactical success guarantees nothing
- Many important decisions are not made by
Forrester, p. 152-3
Since I have always thought of our field of sales being
laden with paradoxes I have generated a list of Paradoxes of Selling:
- The more salespeople focus on the client
instead of themselves, the more salespeople benefit
- Winning and retaining big clients often takes
less work than winning smaller ones
- A tactic that worked with one client, may not
work with another
- Many important decisions are not made by CEOs
- While companies spend most of their time
developing products, they don’t matter. Solutions do.
- If relationships are all that matter, they
don’t matter at all.
What do you think? We’d love to hear from you.