General George Patton and Demand Generation

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

Over the Christmas-NYE holidays, I had lunch with one of the top experts in demand generation in the technology business. We did a great job of staying off business the entire lunch as I have known her for almost 3 decades and I wasn’t inclined, nor was she, to talk business. In the beginning though, we talked about Patton and some of his greatest quotes. She had keyed on another Patton quote, “If everyone is thinking alike then someone isn’t thinking.” I replied with Patton’s quote about a good plan violently executed…..

Every week I see more ads, more emails and more communications about some great new demand generation/top of funnel/sales acceleration/revenue acceleration/predictive marketing/Account Based Marketing tools, platforms, methodologies – all guaranteeing unlimited and what sounds like easy success or at least performance changing success. If it were all true then we all would be doing it…..right?

Four years ago I read an article declaring the end of call centers within 5 years. It’s almost 5 years later and the call center business is going strong. I read that Marketing Automation is now a mature technology. I read that only “inbound” is the way to go. Bottom line – what to do?

If I was sitting on the customer side I could spend an entire year or more evaluating options. There are more options than there are days in the year to evaluate them. Someone even built an infographic of Marketing Tech and I was stunned at all the brands, systems, tools that are now available to modern marketers.

The one thing that remains crystal clear is that waiting for the perfect plan is costing your organization money. It costs you money as you sit in meetings trying to define requirements; discover new technologies; research best practices – while the world of business turns.

I had the opportunity to witness a decade ago what happens when you put in a massive outbound push and then measure it back by measuring the resulting inbound return. At first it appeared that outbound wasn’t successful – but when measured against the organizations coming back in on the inbound, the results were simply spectacular. Combined, the programs were game changing. The client had the presence of mind maintain the campaigns and the reward was game changing. The client was an emerging storage company stuck at $600 Million in the US and the management team there had the courage to continue the massive outbound push. When the inbound first started the perception was that it was the most successful program in its own right. When the data was measured on the inbound there was a 92% correlation between organizations in the outbound database and those now coming in as inbound leads.

The one thing the client did was to accept the Patton philosophy of a violently executed plan that was done with a great sense of urgency, and have the patience to keep going. The resultant inbound campaign was one of the things I feared most – because in setting it up we had to prepare for all kinds of calls, from customer service, to field engineering, to investor relations – but the gold was in the leads/inquiries. This was a moment where I had sleepless nights trying to figure out the risks or as I said at the time, “Terrorism will now have an address” – meaning that if anything went wrong with any inbound call, they now knew who to blame. I have to give the client credit for staying with it and reaping the benefits – which was a huge surge in quotes and ultimately sales of systems as well as growing their Channel from 52 resellers to over 325 in less than 18 months. Clearly that happened in part, as a result of demand. In part, it also had to do with pushing outbound with gusto; a well-trained sales team; and the first forays into a new market; as well as a great comprehensive story about enterprise storage.

In many sales campaigns the past 6 months I’ve watched as organizations get bogged down with their own internal agenda – as the clock ticks their competitors out market them. Time is simply too precious to waste delaying execution. From chasing Rommel out of North Africa; to beating Montgomery to Palermo in Sicily; to turning North and driving his III Corps for 3 days and nights to relieve the surrounded American 101st Paratroopers at Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge – the one thing that Patton knew is that waiting for the perfect plan would give strength to the enemy.

Waiting to move forward until your plan is perfect is a noble goal – but moving forward rapidly and taking the battle to the market faster is ultimately your greatest weapon and the game changer.

Last Patton quote – “In case of doubt, attack.”

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