Boots on the ground always beats fighting from a distance.
A fundamental principle of counterinsurgency strategy is that you need ‘boots on the ground.’ You can’t influence a population and secure ground and terrain, especially populated areas, without having troops constantly on the lookout, patrolling, encountering the population, collecting information, and providing a sense of security. It’s the same in business, especially sales. Bombardier Aerospace is going into full sales mode to acquire customers for its new C Series jetliner. In order to be successful, the company has created a number of sales offices around the world, breaking with its traditional approach of selling from its main headquarters in Canada. There are now offices in Shanghai, Europe, Sydney, etc. There will also be offices in Johannesberg, South Africa and the US. The company has realized that nothing beats a physical presence when attempting to make large sales. As we say in French, “loin des yeux, loin du coeur.” You can’t expect to influence buyers from a distance. You have to be like counterinsurgency soldiers, and get boots on the ground.
Visit your customers and prospects on a regular basis. Ask them what they want and need, what their objectives are, what their concerns and limitations are. Find a way to stay connected with them on a continual basis.
Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.
© 2013 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.