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April 6, 2009

Sales lesson from Jacob Zuma’s acquittal

Jacob Zuma slipped the noose because he made the NPA stay in the ring too long. As the seven year saga progressed, Zuma started winning more and more rounds as the NPA made mistake after mistake. And, today (6 April 2009) the knockout punch came. All charges were dropped against him.

The same can be said for Robert Mugabe. His stalling tactics eventually made Morgan Tshangari look like a filibuster holding up progress. People actually forgot that the MDC actually won an election rigged to favour Zanu-PF. In the end, it looked like Tshangari was the problem and not Mugabe.

I reckon Judge Hlope is going the same route. Keep it going for long enough and your opposition is going to get tired, falter and fail.

The lesson I take away from this from a sales and marketing viewpoint is that the longer you stay in the ring, the more chance you have of being knocked out.

In other words, the longer the sales cycle is, the more chance you have of making a mistake and losing the deal. Companies that sell on a long sales cycle (six to 24 months) risk offending a key player, reneging on promises and letting the cracks show.

Thus, the goal must be to shorten the sales cycle so that there's less chance of making mistakes detrimental to the deal.

Jacques de Villiers is a motivational speaker and sales trainer.

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