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Would Nelson Have Made A Good Sales Director

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An alternative to the overused analogy between sales and "Sun Tzu and the art of war".

An analysis of Admiral Nelson and the skills required of a successful sales director.

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Would Nelson Have Made A Good Sales Director

  1. 1. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Would Nelson have made a good sales director?
  2. 2. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Leadership Without question Nelson was an inspirational leader! He understood the need for constancy of purpose and clarity of the messages he delivered to those under his command. He was even liked to the extent that, after the battle of Trafalgar, many sailors were said to have shed tears on receiving the news of his death. As depicted in this portrait of Lord Nelson by Lemuel Francis Abbott in 1800, Nelson did not need to wear an eye patch. His blindness in one eye was an internal injury (possibly a displaced retina) so the eye appeared quite normal.
  3. 3. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | People Nelson and his contemporaries understood the need for training. Through regular gunnery practice and long periods at sea manning the blockades of the French ports, the British navy was well practiced in gunnery and seamanship having a rate of fire several times faster than that of the French. Nelson had a reputation for caring for his sailors, but the introduction of limes* to their diet, was initiated by Sir Gilbert Blane FRS, Physician to the Fleet 1779– 1783. * The British came to be known as Limeys as the reforms in the naval diet called for lemon juice to be added to the sailors’ grog. However limes were more readily available in the Caribbean.
  4. 4. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Process There’s nothing like a simple plan.. . . . . . . The plan for Trafalgar played to the British strengths: rather than approaching the enemy in a long battle line and engaging in a parallel formation, Nelson formed two close parallel lines to go straight at the enemy. This approach simplified communication and broke the battle into a number of individual ship to ship fights, allowing the British to prevail through their superior gunnery. “In case signals can neither be seen or perfectly understood, no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.” Prior to the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 Plan for the battle of Trafalgar 1805 Source: the National Maritime Museum
  5. 5. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Proposition Sustained violence until the battle is won! Not so much a proposition as an ‘offer you can’t refuse’? “Firstly you must always implicitly obey orders, without attempting to form any opinion of your own regarding their propriety. Secondly, you must consider every man your enemy who speaks ill of your king; and thirdly you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.” ...and remember what he said: “no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.”
  6. 6. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | How would we rate Nelson?
  7. 7. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | A** Without doubt Nelson was one of Britain’s most charismatic leaders. He communicated clearly, and won the respect of his men through his commitment and compassion. He led by example and was not shy of action. He even insisted on taking his turn to be treated by the surgeon when wounded during the battle of the Nile. Leadership
  8. 8. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | A* Nelson had a talent for making sure his people would perform “to be almost invincible”. Regular gunnery practice ensured that the British rate of fire was not only rapid, but accurate. Much was done to improve the well being of the sailors; reforms to the navy’s diet could be viewed as the equivalent of today’s manager striving to ensure that his team is able to perform to the utmost. People
  9. 9. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | A Clear plans certainly, together with clear roles for all those aboard his fleet. What is impressive in this area is that Nelson was quite prepared to challenge the existing way things were done and to introduce new tactics where he saw fit. Process
  10. 10. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | A* It is difficult to transpose directly to selling from late 18th/early 19th century naval warfare. Boarding parties lead from the front by Nelson and sustained accurate cannon fire are not so much a proposition as an offer that is “difficult to refuse”. Of note was what Nelson termed “the Nelson touch” which was his introduction of innovative tactics in battle. Proposition
  11. 11. Consilium | s a l e s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n | Nelson would have made an excellent sales director, though he’d have been a challenge to manage – from his wilfully blind eye to his wayward private life.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leadership A** People A* Process A Proposition A* Conclusion
  12. 12. Pictures courtesy of Microsoft clip art, Wikimedia and others. Improve your sales performance Sales and Marketing How much could yours be worth to you? Do you nurture it? How can you make it work better? More sales and marketing insights here

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