3 Sales Lessons You Can Learn From The Military

25 May


As we approach Memorial Day it had me thinking about all those that served.  Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who have died protecting all of us.  While I have not served, I enjoy exploring American history and the leadership lessons from our Military leaders.  My respect for the Military has led me to one of my favorite charities, the Fisher House.

The Military has provides many lessons that sales  can learn from.  A friend of mine of 36 years has served our country for almost 20 years.  He has served in many capacities and for the last few years has worked in a very specialized area.

We’ve discussed over the years how they approach missions and how they prepare. He shared that working as a team they identify what success looks like,  based on the higher-ups directive, and they discuss the tools and personnel needed to be successful.   They write it out and walk through the plan.

So as I think about how this applies to my life.  I used to ask my team, “What does success look like in this meeting?” as we walked or entered a meeting.  95% of the time the seller will know what success looks like.  In many cases we had other members of the organization joining the meeting in a specialty capacity, and many times they did not know what success looks liked for the lead sales individual or we discussed it on the way to the meeting or before we walked in.  The timing was to late and unorganized.  We’ve adapted our plan to be more successful by clearly defining goals and understanding the tools needed at the start of every week to help guide our conversations and develop the story prior to the meeting.

As I’ve read articles on books of great leaders, another area we can adopt as a sales culture is post-mission analysis.  We are all guilty of jumping back into the day when the meeting ends.  We are all short on time, but taking 5-10 minutes with the team to discuss what worked, what didn’t, and how you would do it differently, can help as you get ready for the next sales call.  Use your agreed upon “Success” as the guide and see if you accomplished what you hoped.

3 Things I Learned

  1. Collaborate with the team to come to an agreement on what success looks like days before the meeting.  Write it down and send it out to all involved.  Our team starts every Monday with defining success for our meetings and the tools needed.
  2.  Understand who and what is needed to drive the outcome you have agreed upon. This doesn’t mean bringing 10 people to a meeting or delivering a 60 page PowerPoint to get your point across but it can create clarity.
  3. Perform a post meeting analysis to identify what worked and what didn’t work to create success moving forward.

In no way does sales come close to the work that our Military does for us.  While success and failure for us means winning or losing investment, for our Military success or failure can be measured through life and death.

Thanks to all those who served and if inclined check out Fisher House.   It’s a great charity and 91% of all donations goes to the cause.

About Fisher House:


Fisher House Foundation, Inc. is an international not-for-profit organization established to improve the quality of life for members of the military, retirees, Veterans and their families. The Foundation builds comfort homes at military and VA medical centers and gifts them to the government. It assists with the coordination of private support and encourages public support for the network of comfort homes known as “Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Houses.” It works to educate and inform the military and Veterans’ communities, their families and the general public about Fisher Houses and provides necessary support to individual Fisher Houses as needed. Other quality of life programs include scholarship programs, a grants program for volunteer organizations with innovative plans for quality of life projects, the Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs and individual assistance to members of the military and their families during a crisis.

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