Using the Infiltration Principle to Your Advantage

Posted: April 12, 2012 in Powerful Ideas
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Yesterday I described the Infiltration Principle and how it can undermine businesses and structures. I compared the steady seepage of water caused by a ceaseless drip to the rot that occurs in organizations and businesses when they are unaware of changes in their internal and external environments that undermine their business models and structures.

Today I’m looking at how the Infiltration Principle can be used to advantage. If the steady ‘seepage’ of undetected change can undermine a solid business, it can be used intentionally to do it to others or to advance one’s own agenda.

For instance, if you want to enter a new market, you can try to go at it in a Big Bang manner. Or, you can try to build your presence slowly and deliberately. Companies can successfully build a new market presence over time by following this principle. In military terms, they start with a modest bridgehead, consolidate their presence there, and then expand from that secure base of operations in new territory.

This is basically what Canada’s TD Bank has done to expand in the US. They started small in the 90s and have built sequentially upon small successes. I describe this ‘bridgehead’ approach in detail in my forthcoming book, Brilliant Manoeuvres: How to Use Military Wisdom to Win Business Battles.

A more tactical example can be seen in the area of sales. If you’re in B2B sales, you know that these depend on building strong relationships with buyers or key recommenders. While it’s possible to build a relationship quickly, in most cases, perhaps the vast majority, it takes time and effort to do so. The best way is to use the Infiltration Principle. Small and steady are the way to go. Start by becoming known to the buyer. Then you introduce yourself and provide free value in some way. Then you develop a one-on-one interaction, getting to know the buyer’s needs and wants and objectives. After a time, you can start proposing solutions to his or her business needs or to fulfill their business objectives. It’s exactly the same principle as the bridgehead approach I described above, but applied to personal interactions and relationships instead of overall business strategy.

There are many other ways to apply this principle. Jim Collins’s latest book Great by Choice (co-written with Morten T. Hansen), shows how some companies and executives have built successful businesses over time by adhering to a few simple principles and doing them relentlessly every day. What they are basically doing is describing the Infiltration Principle.

© 2012 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted with full and proper attribution.

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