Brilliant Manoeuvre
There’s a military dictum to the effect that time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted. Scouting parties are sent out to confirm the lay of the land, the presence and nature of enemy forces, the friendliness of the local population. Reconnaissance can also be used to find weaknesses in the enemy’s defenses and alternate routes to objectives. This requires investment and time, but this is paid back in spades by prudent risk assessment and ultimately leads to faster and safer results.

Businesses should apply the same principles to all areas of endeavor. Finding and following leads, qualifying prospects, and converting them to clients is akin to military reconnaissance. Before you commit significant resources to selling and closing, you must determine if a lead is real, and if it’s worth pursuing. Once this has been done, you can commit more significant sales resources to determine what the deal could be, then to close the deal. Most sales organizations are not sufficiently disciplined about this scouting approach. The same applies in other areas: R&D, organizational change, talent development, project management, vertical integration, new supplier arrangements, etc.. The idea is to send out feelers and determine the scope and likely success of endeavors before committing significant resources to them.

Try to have three or four different ‘scouting parties’ at any one time looking for opportunities, threats, or improvements. When you detect potential gaps to exploit, develop a pilot initiative. Once it’s proven successful, you can reinforce success an invest for a breakthrough.

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

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