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Uprisings and Revolutions- A History Lesson for Marketing & Sales

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 8/22/11 10:00 PM

I happened to catch an article from the NY Times from a connection on LinkedIn titled, "A Theory of Everything." The author basically sums all the recent riots, government overthrows, protesting and revolutions in one slogan from an Israeli middle-class uprising: “We are fighting for an accessible future.” Mr. Friedman goes on to detail why he thinks that "a lot of middle- and lower-middle-class people now feel that the “'future' is out of their grasp."

The article reminded me of a very simple Bible verse.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." Proverbs 29:18

Now I'm not a theologian, but I have heard some interpret this verse to mean if you obey the law, you will be happy. Given reality, history and the article from the Times, I'd say the message is more like:

"Without hope for the future, unhappy and frustrated people will end up breaking the law. People who have hope are happy, and don't need to break the law."

It is just not human nature to be able to sit in misery without rising up to demand change. Rising up, making demands and even voting for change is the easy part. This has been happening since the beginning of recorded history, from the American Revolution to electing a black president.

So why does everyone seem so surprised- and so scared?

Because starting and leading a revolution, allowing change to happen and anticipating future change is the hard part.

Does this sound familiar in the halls of your marketing and sales departments?

In our industry, people are used to doing things this way.

"Remember that the six most expensive words in business are: 'We've always done it that way.'" -– Catherine DeVrye

Many marketing and sales professionals are struggling with how to make sense of the current state of affairs in our economy, the vast and rapid changes in technology, and the change in the mindsets of their consumers. Panic and an overwhelming fear of being left behind render most immobile, with a deer in the headlights look. (Deer really do stand there and stare at headlights coming at them at 40 mph- take it from this Mainer.)

As the front page headlines detail the latest revolt and riot that are resulting from scared and frustrated citizens, you can't help but realize a revolution is rising.

What's the History Lesson for Marketing and Sales?

Meanwhile, the revolution is here, Paul Revere is riding into the halls of your office and yelling, "It's time."

The core challenge of leadership, whether it is in your company, community, or government is to "find the revolution before it finds you" . A true leader does it in good times or bad.

In January of this year, Bill Taylor wrote for the Harvard Business Review about one of his favorite CEOs who changed his bank's brand by finding his industry revolution. In it, Ray Davis says this about his company's revolution.

"...This model is not just shifting the paradigm. It's crashing and burning and nuking the paradigm! That's how you stay relevant. And if you can't stay relevant, you're done. The banks that are failing have no value proposition — nothing — other than, 'We are a bank and we will offer you a higher rate.' We have a one-of-a-kind value proposition in our industry."

Finding your sales and marketing revolution before that revolution finds and upends you is not just key to business growth, it is key to survival.

The real question here: who is going to start your revolution first? You, or your customer? I will guarantee you will be better off by starting it yourself.

What will your revolution look like? Want some help? We love pioneers.

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Topics: sales, sales and marketing alignment, marketing strategies, sales and marketing revolution