When I sent the following article to Rex Richards, he agreed that we have a lot to learn about success in business strategies by emulating military strategists. A few years ago my wife and I took a trip to China and Mongolia. We spent time living in gers, riding camels and horses and traveling across the Gobi desert. It was the beginning of my fascination with (and study of) Genghis Khan. I also used Genghis Khan's strategies as an outline for "parallels", a theme for my POOLCORP Sales Boot Camps during the past two years. Out of those experiences came the following letter which first appeared in Sales and Service Excellence magazine....You may think of Genghis Khan as a ruthless military leader who conquered much of the known world in the early thirteenth century but recently (since the Soviet presence in Mongolia has disappeared and new writings have been revealed) we see a whole new side of a tremendous military strategist. Chinggis Khan (correct pronunciation), did more to amalgamate the world of his day, eliminate feudalism through a total rule based on meritocracy, improve transportation and change warfare, than any other military leader in history. He mandated freedom of religion in a time when that was virtually unknown. He was the first leader to forbid torture of captives and offer truce and alliance before attacking and/or sacking a tribe or city. He was also tremendously loyal to his troops and his troops to him.What makes Chinggis an outstanding study for field salespersons is his tremendous grasp of creative strategies and unique thinking. Just as your company’s mission statement and strategic objectives should guide your daily strategies, decisions and efforts, Chinggis Khan adopted a written language from an early captured tribe (the Mongols previously had no written language) and utilized it in creating the Yassa (a guide book of rules) for decision-making by his generals and warriors in the field.1. Ask yourself this question, does every offer I make and presentation I make today do something to further my (and my company’s) short and long term mission and strategic goals? Does it help my customers achieve their goals?2. Also ask yourself if your presentation and communication skills need an update?3. Are you using the same language that your customers use? Do you understand their personality well enough so that you can communicate in terms they understand?Just as your company uses the latest CRM or Customer Relationship Management Technology to put ammunition and tools in your hands and give you a competitive advantage, so Chinggis Khan used the development of the saddle stirrup and the laminated re-curved bow (developed by the Mongols) to change warfare forever and to obsolete old-fashioned defenses and attack methods.1. Ask yourself this question, do I fully understand and utilize the computer and sales tools that my company has given me? If not, where can I go to get the instructions I need?2. Do I use the tools and information I have to help my customers achieve their goals?While we are discussing computers and the ability of rapid information transfer, consider that 500 years before we developed a pony express in this country, Chinggis Khan developed it in Mongolia. He called it the Yam and 26 riders and relay stations could transfer information across his country in a matter of a few days rather than weeks or months.1. Ask yourself, do I use our company’s IT tools to track information that would help my customer to grow her business?2. Do I have lists of e-mail addresses and websites for all of my customers so that I can communicate quickly any information that would help them?3. Have my customers given me permission to send them e-mails and do they read those e-mails because I don’t abuse the privilege?Chinggis Khan had a network of spies, usually in the form of merchants who traveled that part of the world. This network of spies continued to feed him information that helped him to develop his strategies and contributed dramatically to his success.1. Ask yourself, do I take the time to analyze my sales territory at least once each year (SWOT or other method) so that I know where the best place is to spend my time and effort?2. Do I ask the people I come in contact with (manufacturer and independent reps, etc) for information that would help me in my strategies for dominating my sales territories? If I get that info do I have a plan for using it?3. Do I read all of the trade journals and other relevant publications so that I am tuned in to changes in my customer, competitor and supplier base?4. If I am part of a national sales organization, am I in contact with other people in my position but in other parts of the country? Are there ways of accomplishing sales growth that they use that I might adopt?Chinggis Khan was successful because he knew the best and most efficient way to achieve his objectives, utilize every technology and tool at his disposal, and found and used information to create a position of supremacy. He was clear on his objectives, creative in his approach and committed to winning. To be successful in sales, you must be too.
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  • Mario, one of the fascinating things for me was a total change in what I believed Genghis Khan was all about and what I learned that changed my mind completely. He was not only a great strategist but a pretty positive influence on our world of his day.
  • Good article. I also agree that understanding military campaigns and strategy can be a help in becoming more successful in business and sales.
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