by Marc Trezza
For many of us, whether we are entrepreneurs, salespeople, managers, or simply someone trying to build his business - martial arts encompass the skills for developing the tools you need to succeed.
Business is much like combat. It is a war out there. Are you fighting to win? What are the personal weapons you use to fight your war? Would you like to develop and apply more of the six weapons listed above? If so, listen up - because martial arts training applied to business will give you every one of them.
That pretty much sums it up. In the world of martial arts, including the military, nothing in life is lower than a quitter.
Awareness is the first requirement for effective speed. Reaction-time and effectiveness are the next issues.
Client #1 called me within 24 hours of being notified that its largest client (a hospital) had been acquired by a conglomerate. First, we identified my client’s primary concerns, which were: a. losing their client, and b. too large an increase in business volume for them to handle competitively.
I asked them where the hospital was in the conversion process, and was told
they were already in the process of making decisions regarding their roster
of out-source firms and vendors. We set an appointment with the hospital
for later that week. Then we put together a list of wins/victories/successes
that my client has had for the hospital over the years, to quantify the advantages
and benefits of the existing relationship.Next, we put together a capacity
plan that would clearly explain how my client would handle an increase in
volume. The plan included:
Physical capacity for additional workstations, along with the number of workstations immediately available for the increased business.
A process map to explain how the accounts will be processed and flow through the system (including the new volume).
A call-center plan for a variety of billing and patient follow-up programs, including the number of lines and predictive dialer stations that would be devoted to such projects
A training plan for additional staff, designed specifically for the hospital’s needs and requirements
A Letter from each of my client’s vendors (hardware, software, workstations, phone system, and phone carrier); committing to installation and/or upgrade of their product(s) within specific guaranteed time-f
A written commitment from my client’s landlord to provide 8,000 additional square feet (according to my client’s specs) within 60 days.
Establishment of a “Quality Control Management Interface Team” to facilitate the transition to larger volume, as well as supervise the updating of the company’s policies and procedures to conform to any changes in the hospital’s needs, workstandards, and requirements as the result of the merger. Resumes of the team’s members were included, along with a request for a group meeting at the hospital so the various department heads could sit with their opposite members to discuss the conversion and how my client could help to reduce the hospital’s administrative burden during the transition.
Company #2 did not deal from a position of strength. They responded to a perception of weakness with promises. Sincerity is not enough. You must persuade.
A Common Business Approach:
Don’t focus on what you have to offer – focus on what they need!
The Martial Arts Way:
In a famous confrontation related in Malcom Kushner’s “The Light Touch,” Eugene Cafiero, President of Chrysler, had traveled to England to meet with workers from a troubled plant there. He was confronted by a burly, hostile worker who loudly proclaimed, “I’m Eddie McClusky, and I’m a communist!” The Chrysler executive extended his hand and said, “I’m Eugene Cafiero, and I’m a Sagittarius.” The ensuing laughter defused a potentially explosive situation.
Know your enemy. Study him. Learn everything you can about him. Sun Tzu said he would rather have one spy dining with the opposing general, than outnumber that general’s forces 10 to 1.
That means you must know absolutely everything about your prospect or client’s needs, requirements, likes, and dislikes. You must know each of the buying influences, their level of influence, their perception of your firm, their perception of the solutions you offer to their problems, and their methodology and approach to company selection and management.
If you know less, you don’t know enough.
Do you build loyalty and esprit de corps within your organization? By your own behavior and management style do you inspire others to “go the extra mile?” Or do you manage from weakness, using the threat of discipline or termination as the motivator that “inspires” subordinates to perform with excellence?
Do you have a quality middle management team? Do you give them clear guidelines, measurable personal performance criteria, and the authority to manage? Or are you a micro-manager. Micro-management, by definition, is a failure of leadership.
Is there a reward system that motivates only production staff (such as salespeople) or is there an equivalent reward system that promotes excellence in other departments for performance (not just showing up aka “perfect attendance”)?
Martial Arts is about focusing on the enemy. In combat, have no idea what the nature of my attack will be before a conflict begins. A thousand details will determine my choice of techniques and execution. Even if I thought that my personal best weapon is a snapping front kick, the last thing I will be thinking is, “OK, how do I get him with my front kick?” That is focusing on myself. When under attack, the only thing going through my mind is “target acquisition.” Where is he weak? Where is he open? What is the core of his attack? Then I attack in the most efficient manner possible. And it is not a one or two-strike attack. Once I start, there is no break, no pause, no shift in intensity - it is an unending, unbroken wave of kicks and strikes until the conflict is over. And I mean OVER.
Business is the same. Do those difficult or unpleasant things that you hate to do, so that others will be inspired or encouraged to do those things that they hate to do. Focus on the target. Assess it. Identify what you need to know. Eliminate assumptions and predetermined notions. And them apply your weapons and skills from a position of strength. In sales, do not stop until the prospect or client recognizes and believes that there is no better solution to his problems (on his terms) than you. You must fight from strengths, based on real information about the needs and requirements of the prospect and the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Sell by focusing on building relationships, not winning points or closing deals.
The “Zen” of it, is that focusing solely on closing deals demonstrates to the buyer that you are motivated purely by self-interest. Focusing on building relationships and providing value instead of closing deals is the way to close more deals.
In negotiations, focus on the goal so as not to get stuck in positional bargaining. If there is an obstacle, determine why it is there before you formulate your attack. Don’t predetermine their intentions from your fears. Too often we presume that what we fear most is what the opposition intends to do. Don’t cast blame – solve the problem. Think more like a judge deciding a case then a lawyer grandstanding for the jury. “Negotiation ju-jitsu” requires that you use questions rather than statements, offering the opposition no targets to strike or points to attack. Questions educate rather than criticize, creating an atmosphere conducive to success. Never be a victim. Stand on honorable ground, and stand there firmly. As Fisher and Ury said in their book, “Getting to Yes,” it’s easier to defend principle than an illegitimate tactic.
The Way of the samurai is a way of honor and principle. It is a way of focus and determination. It is a way of victory and pride. From Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” to Musashi’s “Book of Five Rings,” martial arts principles have been applied to business with clear, definable results. It is a proven way of success.
Godan Roshi Marc Trezza
The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi
Search Net Corporation’s founder, Marc Trezza is a management consultant and coach for executives nationwide. He provides business leaders with guidance and advice for analyzing, attacking, and solving the most frustrating problems that business leaders face today. He is also a 5th Degree Master in Karate and Jujitsu. For information, contact Marc Trezza at: (212) 874-6265, Fax: (212) 496-1005, Email: SNCTrezza@mindspring.com .
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