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  • Frank Fortner

Winning Under Different Rules

Updated: Jul 9




Rules govern everything we do. Written rules. Unwritten rules of etiquette. Rules for driving a car. Rules for playing any game from baseball to checkers to badminton. Rules are everywhere and so ingrained in our routines that we rarely think of them. So, imagine waking up in a world where the rules that govern almost everything you know have changed. People are driving on the other side of the street. Traffic lights now use purple, orange, and blue to signal stop, go, and slow down (or go very fast, depending on the driver). It now takes four strikes to strike out in baseball, but you get only two outs. That's how some healthcare executives and sales leaders felt for much of 2020 and even still in 2021.


Last March, while we were still wishfully thinking things would return to normal after a few curve-flattening weeks of wearing masks and keeping our distance from each other, I wrote a blog titled "Leading In Virtual Reality" because it seemed likely that, for a majority of workers, we were headed in that direction. I had led virtual teams for several decades and felt I could offer some advice. You can still find that blog here. Looking back, and after speaking with many executives since that all began, I'm betting some wished I had instead written a blog titled "Selling In Virtual Reality." As it turned out, without trade shows and face-to-face meetings combined with a customer base that was laser-focused on defeating this new viral enemy, the rules of selling had changed, literally overnight.


No doubt, it was a rough year on the front lines for those given the task of hitting a sales quota. It was also a reality check for many executives whose primary directive to their marketing team was to "bring us leads" because leads weren't easy to come by. It was, however, a great time to step back and reevaluate value propositions and core messaging. It was also a great time to look at how companies were doing in the demand generation department, compared to only lead generation. Perhaps better stated, it was a great time to educate or become educated on the difference between demand and lead generation. Knowing that many hospitals were not going to be in the buying mode (for anything other than PPE, ventilators, and hand sanitizer), some solution providers took the time (wisely) to update their strategic marketing plans. This way, when the winds began to change back to normal, they would be ready to create new demand AND new leads. I know this because we worked with several innovative organizations that are all back on the path to new growth.


It doesn't take a pandemic to find yourself in a place where what used to work doesn't seem to anymore, and new customer growth seems elusive. Every new company faces this at least once in their history, but likely several times. If that's where you are today, and you're wondering why your message isn't resonating and your pipeline isn't growing, we would love to speak with you.

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