There’s been a lot of talk about the “Blitz Defence” that many teams have adopted in the course of fighting their way through this latest world cup. It got us thinking how the game and the Blitz Defence is very much like the way we treat our sales strategies. This is especially true when talking about new businesses or startups, but do some of those habits stick resulting in a poorly constructed strategy?
Now we’ve challenged the idea of sales and marketing being compared to games or battles in previous articles. Taking sales as the prime example, it can be seen by some as a game of winners and losers (more on that again). But it’s true to say, as with the well orchestrated game of rugby, sales and marketing demands a strategy.
What the heck is the Blitz Defence?
Now for those of you who’ve read the last couple of paragraphs, and are wondering what the hell I’m going on about, here’s what happens (in layman's terms) with a blitz defence (cite this).
The defending team anticipates and reads the attacking team’s moves, with the aim of tackling the attacking player with the ball at the moment when the ball has just reached their possession. The impact of which, as the ball in rugby needs to travel backwards, is the retreating of the attacking team’s ‘Gain Line’.
Now even if you knew all that before you read it, you may now see why we drew comparison. If not, read it again….slowly.
In sales, as in Blitz defence, timing is everything. Too early, it’s illegal, in the case of sales it’s inconvenient. Too late, it’s either illegal or a missed tackle, in the case of sales, this equates to missed opportunity. In both cases, overeagerness or a lack lustre approach results in failure, or worse.
Not only does Blitz defence take precision and timing, but it also requires energy. Lots of it. The demand on your sales efforts can be the same, often feeling relentless wave after wave. With each prospect requiring, and expecting responsiveness. To get the timing right, it seems you may need an endless supply of energy.
So why do we make these points and draw these comparisons? To learn to take control. One thing blitz defence does extremely well is it puts the defending team in control of the pace of the game. Often resulting in the complete retreat of the attacking team and ultimately the turn-over of the ball. However, the pace driven by blitz defence is fast and unrelenting. Sometimes resulting in the complete undoing of the defending team.
The key in both Blitz Defence and sales and marketing; knowing when to blitz and knowing when to stand your ground, in a controlled manner.
So what are the implications of this 50:50 strategy?
If executed properly there are a number of implications:
Continuous progress in a single driven direction
Control or Smoothing
You’re not in control of demand, but you are in control of responsiveness. Smooth the demand for your “Blitz” energy by choosing to stand your ground.
The customer and the attacking team come to respect the fact that if you deem it necessary, you will blitz
No-one, not even the mighty aussie pack can sustain a blitz defence indefinitely. Neither can the sales and marketing sustain a blitz strategy without making mistakes in timing, missing opportunities.
But we currently do a mixture of blitz and stand our ground
Really? Is it a strategy, or is it simply energy levels peaking and troughing as a result of trying to sustain a blitz? The only way to truly know is to understand your missed opportunities. Many of which you won’t have been aware of. Like those forwards breaking your defence as you mistime a tackle on their support runner…
Ask yourself honestly, are you standing your ground because it’s a strategic decision, or is it because your lungs are burning with exhaustion…
Startups tend to blitz and fatigue - then this becomes strategy
There is a tendency with startups to blitz. There’s so much energy, so many opportunities, nothing is out of bounds. Blitz, Blitz, Blitz. In some cases in the early days, this isn’t such a problem, there’s enough sales energy to sustain it. The equivalent of a fresh team of 15 taking on a 75 minute battered team of 13 carrying injuries. This situation doesn’t last forever, and that’s no bad thing, more prospects means, well….more prospects!
Over time however, the energy in the startup settles. Stabilisation and competition take precedence. It’s at this point your blitz strategy needs to be reviewed. Being in the 79th minute of the match 5 metres from your own try line, you have one goal. Keep them from scoring. This is where a blitz strategy with its risk of missing opportunities for the sake of making progress in the other direction has no true merit. As with sustaining sales, and maintaining the sales and marketing teams energy levels, your efforts need to be measured.
In business, you can’t afford to let energy levels determine your strategy. Your strategy should determine, and aim to sustain, energy levels whilst sustaining the lifeblood of the business; Sales.
How Does Your Sales Strategy Compare?
So are you behaving like it’s the first 10 minutes of the game but you’re actually in the last 10? Or maybe you’re a startup not taking advantage of the available energy, maybe over thinking or conceding ground? Whichever you are, it’s time to think about what you could learn from the great game of rugby. Are you managing your sales and marketing energy levels, or are you blitzing your way into next week? Missed opportunity after missed opportunity meaning you’re conceding ground quicker than you can evaluate what to do next? If you’re not thinking strategically, it may well be just around the corner.
Anyone for some strategic blitzing?
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