The water from a river that flowed on the eastern edge of the kingdom was not reaching a farm. The farmer went to the king, and the king said, “Build a wider canal.” This was done, but still the water did not reach the farm. If anything, the flow dried up much earlier than before. “Maybe,” said the old minister, “you should consider connecting the farm to the other river that flows on the western edge of the kingdom.”
The farmer followed the minister’s advice and sure enough, water flowed effortlessly to his farm. What was the difference? “It is the source, sir, not the canal,” explained the minister. “The eastern river is rain-fed while the western river in snow-fed. The former has a very limited reservoir; the latter has an abundant reservoir. The impact of irrigation depends not so much on the channel as much on the source.”
The story made sense to Mr.T after his field trip to an Indian city. Eight months had passed since the new sales strategy had been rolled out. The city was a very small market and T wanted to see the impact of the new strategy at the grassroots level. He was horrified to find that the team had not implemented the new strategy at all; they were still using the strategy that had been declared a failure a year earlier.
But the new strategy was so clearly communicated in T’s presentation at the sales conference and in his email updates thereafter. This was told by T to the local manager. The manager looked at T and explained, rather sheepishly, “Sir, who really listens to presentations and who actually reads emails?,” T felt like a fool.
On returning to the head quarters in nearby Metro city T informed the sales director of the situation. He then declared his plan of extensively touring small markets to enforce the new strategy. The Sales Director said, “You are wasting time and resources widening the canal. Focus on the source, instead.” The Sales Director then narrated the story of the kingdom with a rain fed river in the East and a snow-fed river in the West.
“You created a rain-fed river when you rolled out the strategy. Your presentation was good, very logical and systematic. It helped explain the sound foundation of the strategy to the management but it did not connect emotionally with the sales force. No attempt was made to sell it to the sales managers. Your presentation lacked drama. Your words did not inspire. They did not feel any need to change from the old ways. So they went back and carried on as before. Now, you are paying the price. Instead of wasting time building canals for a rain-fed river, focus on creating a snow-fed source.” The sales director then told T how this could be done.
At the next annual sales conference, everyone was invited to a resort away from the city. Everyone had to come dressed in formals. Everyone was expected to register. Everyone got a conference kit and a name tag. There was a powerful audio visual presentation explaining how the new strategy came into being. The background music was grand. Trumpets were blown when the sales performance was announced and drums were beaten to a crescendo when the target for the following year was presented. Break-away groups were formed to study and discuss the new strategy and the change in tactics. Opinions of every sales person were documented carefully.
The final document of strategy and tactic was presented by T to the commercial director who nodded his head, signed it and presented in all solemnity to the sales director who then, along with his regional managers took a pledge. This was followed by a minute long silence for the pledge to sink in, after which the day ended with a thunderous applause.
The Sales Director explained – while emails influence the eye, and logical presentation appeal to the head, dramatic conferences seep into the soul. The drama communicates the passion. It reaches out directly to the heart. It transforms the rain-fed source into a snow-fed source. This time, he told T, every manager carried the new strategy to their market. The source was strong the irrigation would be widespread.
He advised T to take full advantage of monthly and quarterly reviews to re-establish the source. This will prevent or delay eventual contamination. All rivers are sacred at the source but only the river Ganga is sacred even at its delta because its source, Gangotri, is the most powerful: it is located in heaven, in the locks of Shiva. Try and make the source of your strategy as powerful as Gangotri.