Warsaw Pact military tactics as a sales strategy
It’s not often Communism can teach us anything about sales. In fact, the one thing Communism taught us about sales is that a market-based economy backed by a democratic system of government is a safer long term investment.
During the Cold War, it was feared that at some stage, the Warsaw Pact would completely lose their marbles and launch an attack against Western Europe. This would have caused untold devastation and would have resulted in a catastrophic loss of civilian and military life.
The Warsaw Pact armies weren’t geared to fight a defensive war. The strategy also necessitated a massive build up of forces, and the hope that this would go unnoticed by NATO, or would be treated as routine war games. Advances in surveillance technology naturally made this harder, as did the rapid deployment wargames frequently rehearsed by NATO.
But I digress, and, fortunately, this war never happened. The Berlin Wall was torn down; Eastern Europe is full of capitalist democracies, and millions of happy people drive Volkswagens.
The strategy of such an attack was impressive, both in its simplicity and single-minded focus.
Now, to oversimplify the strategy:
- Attack all along the front with a small portion of the overall force.
- Cause maximum initial damage and confusion (with the aid of 2,200 tactical nuclear weapons).
- Reinforce successful attacks only, but with a 100% commitment of reserves.
- Non-successful attacks would be left to wither, stagnate and, quite literally, die.
- Once a breakthrough had been established, run amok in the enemy rear.
- Don’t stop, don’t defend. Keep attacking until they reached the Atlantic or ran out of steam.
For a full analysis of this strategy, you’ll need to dedicate several years of research, or at least read Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy.
Now, to sales.
As sales people, we are tasked with continuously feeding the new business pipeline. Depending on your product or service this could be as short as the queue at a fast food outlet, several weeks in car sales, or months in corporate sales.
At each new meeting with someone, we are faced with a question: Is this a buyer? Is this a prospect, or a suspect?
You won’t know. And to be respectful, everyone has to be treated like a genuine prospect until they are proven not to be. Once they are established to not be a potential customer, you have to let them go. Don’t reinforce the wrong position. Don’t invest more energy, time or resources in a stagnant battle.
When you do find a genuine prospect, hit them with everything you have and bring in the reinforcements. Go all out. Be strong, be clever and sell. Deploy the resources at your disposal in the areas they can do the best.
Then, keep going until you reach the Atlantic.
So, to oversimplify sales strategy:
- Engage every potential prospect as if they were a genuine likely customer.
- Hit them with everything you’ve got – pitch, demos, etc. (with the aid of your marketing creative genius).
- When you have a live one, bring in the sales support and analyst teams.
- Non-successful pitches and engagements should be left to wither and, not literally, die.
- Once a breakthrough had been established, keep it open and get to as many decision makers as you can.
- Don’t stop, don’t defend. Keep attacking until the client signs.
The stakes in sales aren’t as high as a geopolitical European war, but they are high. Get in the game and use your forces wisely.