I grew up at my Grandpa’s cabin in the middle of the Michigan woods and started shooting when I was about 4 years old. By 10, there was no grown-up I couldn’t out shoot. By the time I was in my mid-twenties with a shotgun, I could shot 3 clay pigeons at the same time and was qualified by the Sheriff’s department as an expert with the first pistol I ever fired.
At 12 years old, I could legally hunt, and I did! As a target shooter, I was 9.5 out of 10, and as a hunter, I was 5.5 out of 10.
I could hit a beer can at 100 yards every time. Yet when a big buck stood less than 50 feet away, I could empty the gun before the deer would depart without a scratch.
If I got enough chances, I would get my deer. As a teenager, there were lots and lots of deer so I got enough chances, and I got my share of deer to be able to pretend to be a great hunter.
As I got older as a result of nature and a mass of hunters, there were less and less deer, which resulted in me seldom being able to pretend I was a great hunter.
Even though there were less deer, lots of my friends would get a deer every year. Sometimes they would pass on two or three deer waiting for a bigger one. I never saw one, and my friends passed on many.
There was a business lesson here. Hunting is a lot more than pointing a gun at a beer can or target. Just like in business, producing revenue is more than taking an order from a buyer who found you, told you what they wanted and handed you a credit card.
The business version of a Great Shot / Bad Hunter is a company in the right place at the right time with the right product or service just when the buyer community woke up and said I want one of those new Televisions, or G.I. Joes, or Time-shares or Nehru Jackets. With all those orders, you declare that you are a great company that knows how to produce revenue just like I declared that I was a great hunter.
During the Tech boom of the ‘90s, I watched sales people and technology companies (Great Shots / Bad Hunters) who on their best day could only hope to be a good company yet at least for a while they got rich because they were in the right place at the right time.
Those Great Shots / Bad Hunters were “Best of the Worst” companies that others described as good because the orders poured in, and they were accompanied by cash.
These same companies were out of business or in big trouble as soon as the economy went bad or good competitors showed up. Everyone around them was either surprised or pretended to be surprised when this company or that sales person failed.
Just like deer hunting with few deer, when the order bubble bursts and you have to know how to find and keep customers on a limited budget, the BOTW (Best of the Worst) companies are quickly separated from the BOTB (Best of the Best) companies who know how to have abundance all the time.
Over the years, I have learned key differences between BOTW and BOTB companies even though the deer are still completely safe.
BOTB companies focus and align starting in the market. They focus on the customer and align their business to solve customer problems. On top of that, the BOTB are all about controlling the cost, bringing great value to the customer and measuring most everything so they can manage and improve. One key difference between the BOTW and the BOTB is the BOTB aren’t afraid of knowing the truth and strive to learn it.
So my learnings are pretty basic:
Great hunters know that you have to be able to hit your target, but that is just a place to start.
Great hunting requires a lot of work to keep everything under control and learn about the game.
Great hunting is a result of studying the field, having a strategy and then the focus to execute even when things are tough.
BOTB companies know it is important to have something good to sell that the market will buy, which is just a place to start.
BOTB know that success is not random – it requires process, metrics and management.
BOTB companies know their customers, develop a deployable Revenue Strategy and are not afraid to learn from the market and change.
If you want to win with or without order bubbles, don’t settle for being a great shot or a BOTW company. Do whatever it takes to be a great hunter and a BOTB company. Have a deployable revenue strategy, measure all key outcomes, know the customer and create value before the buyer knows they need it (that is like knowing what the deer are going to do before the deer knows).
Last, even if you are in a bubble, do the work to become a BOTB company and stick around for a long time, and then you will live in the Happiest Place on Earth.
Rick McPartlin founded The Revenue Game to help companies focus their organizations around the critical function of revenue generation. Rick has held senior executive positions and consulted for many Fortune 500 firms (Sun Microsystems, Siemens, McDonnell Douglas and Bell South) and small companies alike, and he's shared his passion for "revenue generation as a science" for more than 20 years.