Pilgrims and Indians: Sales and Marketing?


We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving. But have you ever compared our US Thanksgiving history to the world of Sales and Marketing? Consider this with me: Today’s Sales professionals are similar to those first pilgrims, with Marketing coming into the scene playing the part of the native American Indians.

The pilgrims sailed for America, modest men and women with great hope and inward zeal, embarking on a new life in a new world as their greatest desire and biggest challenge. Comparing our business lives of programs that take much longer and enduring more turmoil and challenges than expected, the voyage of the Mayflower took twice as long as Christopher Columbus’ voyage, enduring several wintry storms. This equates to various sales opportunities being worked through the sales process — enduring new competitors, or delays in decision-making processes or the contract dollar amount requiring higher-level signature authorities than anticipated. After arriving in their new land, the pilgrims faced disease, famine, bitter cold and many dangers similar to the business environment of competition coming from places never anticipated, internal political battles, budget reductions, and ever-changing business strategies.

The pilgrims’ first harvest occurred in the autumn of 1621. Their own seed had barely grown, but the Indians had shown them how to plant corn which yielded a huge harvest. This is similar to Marketing in today’s environment, which plants seeds for Sales to yield a huge harvest of new clients. Marketing learned from years of hard work and experience that there is no “silver bullet” to gaining market share. It requires a disciplined approach to planting, fertilizing and nurturing to cultivate new business opportunities. On that first Thanksgiving, pilgrims celebrated God’s goodness to them with a party of 90 Indians. Now most companies do not invest in a full-time marketing employee base of this size; however, if you include the multitude of external contractors, agencies and temp professionals, it would perhaps come a bit closer. Most annual Sales meetings are three days in length and include some festival activities. Isn’t it interesting that the first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days and included a festival of sports?

What is most remarkable in this look back to our country’s heritage is that when the Mayflower made its return voyage, none of the pilgrims returned with it. Instead, they collaborated with the native American Indians to learn what worked in the new world’s soil and environment — and chose to stick with it, despite the challenges. The pilgrims recognized the Indians’ help to their community’s success and invited them to celebrate the harvest with thanksgiving. Much like those pilgrim pioneers, the Sales team does not abandon the fight — but rather decides to stay the course and engage executives to make calls, identify clients who are linked in with the prospect to make unsolicited reference calls…including other partner companies using any contact that can be networked to move the sale along. In short, Sales makes decisions to stay the course instead of jumping back on the ship. And Marketing helps to find a way that yields greater results.

So, I’m thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with clients to reduce the friction between Sales and Marketing, and today, I celebrate God’s blessings of a solid year of business success during a tough economy. I’m also thankful for our nation’s leaders, both present and past, which have shaped our country’s course over time. In case you haven’t read it (or read it lately), here is the Thanksgiving Proclamation made by one of our country’s greatest leaders, Abraham Lincoln:

“Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be then, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on the occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”

Like President Lincoln, great leadership knows when to stop and be thankful for accomplishments — and those, or the One, who made them happen. Here’s a tip of the hat to Sales and Marketing teams everywhere. Collaborating for the best business outcomes is indeed a team effort.

Thanksgiving blessings to all.

Posted by Ggoodyear on 21-11-2012 in Uncategorized