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I didn't know if this was the right section to make this topic, but it seemed fitting.

The battle drill is a tool that soldiers use to practice fundamental skills for their trade. The one that comes to mind immediately is Battle Drill #6 for the Military Police. I think of this one because I had to do this a few hundred times (at least) in my military career.

Battle drill 6 was the act of dismounting a MK 19 grenade launcher from a turret and placing it on a 44lb tripod away from the vehicle. Sounds easy enough but when the MK19 weighs in at 72 lbs, it can be a challenge after the 12th evolution and you are being timed to standard.

But we did this drill time and time again for the shear fact that when on the battlefield you needed to know how to do this quickly, safely, and correct to complete your mission.

Drills like these were rehearsed with most of our free time to keep us sharp and on top of our game. The same should be done in business.

Sales leaders should develop their own drills that are specific to their industries. For example I work in a hosted application space for a company called NetSuite that competes with SalesForce.com (Who I can say is not supportive of hiring ex-soldiers turned to professionals based on their last failed recruiting attempt.) One of the drills I put together was one focused on calling on every contact I had that was either currently evaluating both our products or had indicated they were current users of SalesForce.com and looking for reasons to switch. It was simple to construct and all that was needed was for SalesForce.com to go down for a length of time long enough for me to complete the drill. Which actually isn't very difficult either since they have gone down a couple times in the past few months for several minutes or more.

1. Generate a list of accounts that fit the criteria and have it saved for future reference.
2. Rank them on status
3. Start at the top and aggressively call on all of them pointing out the fact that SalesForce.com was down and NetSuite was a solution they could count on.
4. If their systems came up before I could complete the list it didn't matter because the damage was done and I could just tailor the conversation on an event that just took place.
5. After the calls were completed a skillfully crafted email explaining the downtime and NetSuites guarantee on a 99.5% uptime was better than anything in the industry would be sent to the contacts and usually hammered the point home.

That's it, 5 steps and a Battle drill was designed that can be executed on command.

There are many situations that can be crafted into these drills for a sales group.

Mark's picture

Koka-

Sorry no one, ESPECIALLY ME, has responded.

GREAT POST! Some folks aren't responding because of the "battle" word, and "drill" doesn't win us any friends...but you're completely right.

Would you send me what drills you remember? Mike and I are moving in this direction for management - practices that managers can drill in to become great at. Like presentations...

Mark

sfsales's picture

Well..maybe I need to work on my terminology. :) Thank you for the reply Mark.

The idea behind this besides the military background is simple. Sales leaders need to spend time focusing on the fundamentals of sales and remind or drill those fundamentals into their sales people. Too often we are chasing the whale or getting caught up in the 'hot' topic of the quarter instead of remembering that sales is a process that can be fine tuned almost to a science. There was a great booked titled Execution by Larry Bossidy that helped make the connection for me. I just seem to fine tune them to terms that I find most comfortable based on my time in the Army.

I'll pull some of them together and send them to you.

Mark's picture

Excellent! Thanks Koka.

Mark

nickbryla's picture

I'm new to the site, but wanted to provide my feedback on this topic. I had brought this up a few years ago at our company operational improvement planning sessions.

The issue we were having was during major system maintenance and enhancement releases, only a few key project leads would know the full implementation plan. When things would go wrong, not all team members were clear what the response plan (backout plan) was, to include indicators that made it clear the team had expended enough time trying to resolve the issue, and to transition back to the old application version.

We talked about Army "rock drill" exercises whereby all key implementation leaders would be present for an implementation rehearsal, and each phase of the release would be talked through in-detail. Taking this approach, the team wouldn't have to wait on the project lead to be present and to make the final decision if the actions were event-driven versus single leader driven.

Just a thought about how to apply "battle drills" to make actions that much easier to determine, and "rock drills" to ensure a project team is very well versed on key activities and the plan of attack for effective release management.