"Patton-ed" Lessons In Execution And How They Apply To Sales Enablement

The line from Shakespeare, "What's past is prologue" has always resonated with me. History does have a funny way of repeating itself and people who can learn from what’s happened before have an advantage over those that don’t. As we celebrate Memorial Day here in the States, I thought I’d use the time to share some useful insights about one of America’s most successful generals and how they relate to sales enablement professionals today.

General George Patton’s unparalleled ability to execute in WWII sometimes gets overshadowed by his colorful (and stupid) public relations. Because of his quick strike abilities, the Axis leaders feared him more than any other Allied general. What made him truly unique, and someone still studied in military academies throughout the world today, was his formula for success. Patton had a voracious appetite for history and believed that humanity already had a master inventory of all of the strategies and tactics for winning a battle. All one had to do was apply that knowledge to a given situation. His success can be summed up by his ability to model, map, and match.

He was able to model the various elements of a particular battle (from tactics, troop movements, level of aggression of his opponent, terrain, initiative, strengths, weather patterns, etc.) to recognize patterns from an engagement of antiquity. Having identified patterns, he was able to associate (or map) the actions of the victorious general to his situation, giving him a powerful competitive advantage -- the trial-and-error wisdom of thousands of successful and failed tactics and strategies of the other generals of the ages. Armed with the best advisor (the collective wisdom of centuries of peers), Patton was able to rapidly and effectively match winning tactics from the past to his specific circumstances.

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Please! Don't Shoot Your Social Media Messenger

It has been quite a week for me. I’ve been finishing off a client study of tech buyer Social Technographics -- 130 enterprises in their home European country. The data is good: consistent with what we had already gathered in our published work (see our April report); but of course, we have collected much more detail around this client’s specific market. But the client does not accept the data.

Curiously, I have had several conversations with tech vendor marketers who doubt our Social Technographics data. Peter Burris and I debated at length last month with an industry marketing manager for a services company. He said that only half of the people he sold to even had a PC (he was selling to Government accounts). And this project client of mine also refuses to believe the data we have collected. Their issue is actually more about being credible in front of their own executives. They are afraid that, because their own executives do not use social media themselves, they’ll reject the concept that 43% of their potential audience are Creators, which is what we found out.

I did provide a clarification on our Social Technographics ladder methodology in response. A Creator population of 43% does not mean that nearly half are writing blogs (that number is actually 28%). Creators is a combination of 5 different questions: it is about publishing a blog post, your own Web pages, uploading a video, uploading audio/music or writing articles and posting them. Whoever does ONE of these things at least monthly is called a Creator. But the chances are still that this client will just shelve the data we have collected, plus the analysis and recommendations on a suitable social media strategy, in order to avoid having to argue against, or educate, their own management.

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Discussing How To Build The Business Case For Social Media

I had the pleasure of hosting an IT Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) workshop, “Building the Business Case for Social Media in B2B Marketing” at our London office this week. There were 12 IT services marketers attending, and we all enjoyed very informative presentations led by Moira Clark, Professor of Strategic Marketing at Henley Business School. Moira has lots of practical experience and did extensive research work for Cisco in 2009. We also heard from DNX Ltd, a marketing agency with several tech vendor clients, as well from LinkedIn.

I certainly learned a lot personally about using social media - there was quite a bit of “hands-on” work: assessing a company’s social media strategy, comparing listening platforms, and launching a community. Here are some of the highlights that I remember most (and consider me an experienced tech marketer now trying to understand the impact of social media on the marketing mix).

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