In Change, Focus, Leaders

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” – Unknown

We’ve talked about priorities before in generalities, but today I’m thinking about something specific for any business. I recently was fortunate to spend time with a growing, dynamic service business that has hit a speed bump. They’ve found they have so many customers that they don’t feel like they have time to service them all and they don’t feel like they have time to go find any new ones. The real issue (which they’ve recognized) is they’ve spent too much time chasing every bit of revenue they can find over the years and now much of their time is filled with unprofitable, unfulfilling work.

To try and fix the problem, we talked about lions and zebras. Here’s the shortened version: over thousands of years on the savannah, lions have figured out that in order to provide the 2000 pounds of meat the pride needs every week, it doesn’t do much good to chase wild pigs. Lots of effort, little reward. They worked out that with a strategy to hunt the right prey they could exponentially increase their potential to survive. Everybody has a job – male lions provide security & continuity, senior lionesses plan & execute the ambush, junior lionesses move in for the final kill, etc.

What does that have to do with sales? A lion pride has a common goal & vision. They worked out what was their ideal prey (zebras), then they worked out plan (everybody has a role) and they execute that plan over and over and over. They’ve also learned to ignore the small game that distracts them and uses up energy they need to survive (special thanks to Mike Boyle at Banjar Group for the analogy).

Think about your organization. What prey (customers) is appropriate for your business? What industry? What size? What location? Who can connect you? Sit down with your team and ask yourselves if you understand what your zebra is, where it lives, who can help you kill it, and how you can best work as a team to get the job done. If you don’t, there’s a great chance your business is wasting it’s time on the wrong kind of animal.

We don’t have enough time or energy in our businesses to waste it on a customer who doesn’t fit. Save your energy (and that of your team). Find your zebra.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Dave Van Essen

    This analogy has worked well for our sales team and has created great discussion. We continue to focus our efforts on our zebra, and it has helped with our overall efficiencies. Although there is still room for improvement, I have appreciated this topic and continue to bring it up during our meetings. Thanks for the help!

    • Matt Heemstra
      Matt Heemstra

      More and more as I work with businesses it seems like arguably the biggest inefficiency is the lack of a clearly defined zebra. People adopt an “all revenue is good revenue” mentality and the result is lots of work and disappointing results. People would do well to copy your success. Thanks Dave!

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