I don’t know if you guys know this, but I used to be in the military. I wasn’t satisfied with just one branch of service either; I was in two separate branches. I proudly served for four years in the United States Marine Corps and finished the last four in the United States Navy.
Many people consider this counter-intuitive; maybe so. I did it because I wanted to experience everything. I challenged my mind in body in the Marines, but I wanted to expand my horizons by seeing the world in the Navy. There are many strategic concepts I learned in the military, but I would like to share a few that I still use regularly that I think you might find helpful in your businesses.
You see there are some “lowest common denominator” strategies in the military that we begin to be taught in boot camp which are essential to saving life and winning wars. Survival and success are the same fundamentals we strive for in business, so I thought I would share just a couple baseline imperatives with you.
If you apply these military strategic principles you might just think more clearly and get more favorable results in your business and your lives. These principles were instilled into us as recruits with the expectation they would become reflexive and save our lives in what are sometimes perilous circumstances.
The Surprise Attack:
No army has ever won a war or battle by telegraphing their next move ahead of time. The great French General and statesman, Charles de Gaulle said “You have to be fast on your feet and adaptive or else a strategy is useless.” This is as good an adage in war as in business. In other words, DO THE UNEXPECTED! In selling and in business you should be constantly thinking of ways to out stymie, stump and thwart your competition.
One Shot One Kill:
OK, maybe this one seems a little violent at first, but I can say from experience that the positive desperation this concept instills in completely invaluable. In essence it means it is either you or them, you may not get a second chance.
In business you get one chance to make a first impression, make sure it counts. This is easier than you may think. Just make sure that when you are seeing a client/customer for the first time you dress appropriately, give a nice firm handshake and smile, and if you had onions for lunch; mix in a mint.
First impressions are one thing, but what of the presentation? One shot one kill means that if a client/customer gives you the shot, don’t waste your bullet by being unprepared. Ensure that you have done your homework and are properly versed on their needs and your solution.
Somebody is sold on every call and every walk-in. Either you sell your potential client on why they need your product or service or your potential client sells you on why they don’t.
Attention to Detail:
When I was in the military we spent so much time paying these pesky little things called “Irish Pennants”. The term “Irish pennant” was coined by the Royal Navy in the sailing ship era. It referred to a loose or untidy end of a rope. But today it refers to a tiny little loose thread on a uniform, which can bring untold shame when an inspector finds one on your supposed perfectly groomed and prepared uniform.
Why do they concentrate so heavily on something so seemingly inconsequential? You see, in battle, that Irish Pennant is not a thread on your uniform, it is a pin in a grenade; it is your safety latch on your rifle (to keep from shooting your fellow Marines in the back); it is your perfect camouflage that helps avoid detection. In business, attention to detail could be that which allows you to uncover that “hot-button” need of a client/customer that impels them to purchase…from you.
Learn on the Fly:
Cliché of the Day: “What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.” I know this has been said before, but hear it this time please. Sometimes doing exactly the opposite of what you have been doing until now can be the perfect solution. At the very least, use your past experiences to discern the cause of your failures no matter how small. Make a resolution to change those behaviors that don’t allow you to progress.
Follow up and Follow Through:
Exploit any and all business opportunities to the fullest extent. You get one chance to achieve your mission. If you have an incredible promotional idea, service or product, sell it with pride.
Finally, don’t forget to thank those that purchase from you. Let your customers know you appreciate their business with a card or letter.
In the military there is great pride in introspection. In business, it is imperative to search yourself for areas in which you can improve, especially the areas where you are experiencing frustration, and question whether or not there is a different or better way of approaching your challenge.
Until be speak again, keep striving, keep striving.
President of Sales and Marketing