All things are ready, if our mind be so. – William Shakespeare, Henry V
The English insult is different from that commonly seen in much of the world.
Instead of a middle finger raised aloft, they hold up the index and the middle, palm facing inward.
This custom, apparently, comes from days when the longbow was used in battle and the French would threaten to cut off those two fingers of any prisoners to ensure they never drew a bow again.
And so, in battle, the longbowmen held up those fingers to tell the other side what they thought of them.
The longbow, apparently, came into its own at Agincourt in 1415. 8,500 English soldiers, 7,000 of which were longbowmen faced around 50,000 French troops.
They won – helped by their arrows – which travelled towards the enemy faster than they could run and walk towards them.
But, what does this have to do with business or sales and marketing?
It’s a story that can be used to look at the same situation from different points of view.
Let’s look at tactics, for example.
The losing side were just as brave as the winning side. If anything, they might have been braver, trusting in their armour to protect them from those pesky arrows.
They had a plan, to head towards the other side and so that’s what they did.
That’s a little like having an army of salespeople taught to smile and dial. They hit the phones, make the calls, make their numbers and succeed.
Is that approach, that works like a cavalry charge, all might and muscle and fury, going to work?
Increasingly, it seems to me, it doesn’t. A cold approach, whether on the phone, email, snail mail, is easily stopped, ignored or turned away.
The arrows, on the other hand, are multiple points of contact. Some might miss, some might hit, and the ones that hit may make a difference.
So, the way I think about this is to imagine that you want to build a pipeline of business. You could reach out to people directly or you could send a shower of arrows their way.
You could advertise where they are going to see it, you could engage with them in the places they are going to be, you could work with them on things that they feel are important and you could get introduced to them by people they already trust.
Is that going to increase your chances of success?
Possibly. Even probably.
I guess it simply comes down to this.
There are lot of things you could do.
You could focus on just one of those things – something you’re strong at, and just do that thing.
Or you could do as many of those things as you can at the same time.
For some people the focused approach will work. For others, the wider one.
Unfortunately, there is no right answer.
There is just what happens when you finally join battle.