As all you history buffs out there know, the American War of Independence is one of the most remarkable events in world history. There are a number of interesting parallels between this struggle and sales, salespeople and companies which I am going to take up in a new series of blogs.
Why is it important to take a regular look back in history? Because in doing so there are many lessons we can learn. We can borrow principles and strategies and, most importantly, perhaps we can refrain from repeating earlier mistakes.
Causes of Revolution
Like many other revolutions, the American Revolution wasn’t exactly planned. No one sat down and carefully drew up a strategy for rebellion. It had a number of causes, mainly dealing with the fact that Great Britain was seeking to repay its considerable national deficit by heavily taxing the American colonies without their input or agreement. This began with the Stamp Act in 1765, in which certain documents including newspapers were taxed (and when taxes were paid an official stamp would be applied, hence the name). It included the Tea Act, which resulted in the act of rebellion known as the Boston Tea Party. Colonists objected to these and other such measures because the colonies had no representation in the British Parliament, who was imposing the taxes.
The colonies vigorously opposed these taxes and penalties, which became quite oppressive. This opposition eventually turned to violence on both sides, and in 1775 the American Revolution began.
Correlation to Sales and Companies
The first correlation we can draw to the world of sales is the fact that in commerce today, there is certainly a war of sorts occurring. It’s not a war being fought with weapons, but with marketing, sales and strategy. There are a lot of players, who I would label as money players. The goal is to win in their particular arena, for whatever product or service is being sold.
I truly don’t think that in such wars, the best solution always wins. The winner is, many times, the company that has enough liquidity to fight the skirmishes, battles and wars and make it to the other side. But as we saw with the American Revolution, there can also be a stark lack of liquidity–and it is sheer motivation by a vision and purpose that carries a company through.
The first lesson we can learn here is this: Starting up any new enterprise or even a sales force is never easy. Anyone who’s ever started something–a state, an enterprise, or any other ongoing concern–usually has quite a story to tell. Growing it is generally somewhat painful. There will be virtual casualties. Anyone who sets out with a goal such as this does so with the hopes that it will all go smoothly, that everyone will be happy and get along. This is never the case, and the War of American Independence shows us how something great comes to be built. It is painful and costly.
Are You Ready?
As war approached in the mid-1700s, I’m quite sure the architects of the American Revolution had to ask themselves and each other if they were ready and willing to face what was to come. These were very intelligent people whose names are, today, the lights of history, and certainly knew it would not be easy. The result of their contemplation was the now-legendary Declaration of Independence.
For anyone seeking to strike out on their own–whether a single salesperson or a group founding a fledgeling company–they too, must ask themselves: Are you ready? Do you have enough courage, power, and energy to not only win the battle, but win the war?
We know what “winning the war” meant for the American colonies: the birth of a new nation. What does “winning the war” mean for someone founding a new enterprise? It means an established company–one that is clearly visible, has a well-established presence in the world, that is offering a solution, that is healthy and growing, and that changes the established structure.
For sales and commerce there are many other lessons we can learn from the American Revolution, which we will be taking up in coming weeks. Won’t you join me?