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Fundamentals Rarely Change-Situations Do

by Hank Barnes  |  September 18, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

One of the best parts of the Influencer Day that my colleagues (in our Gartner for Sales Leaders and Gartner for Marketing leaders practices) hold is the more off the cuff discussions that flow around the event.

For the last two years, I’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know Jill Konrath a little better.  Jill is very open about her experiences and challenges.   Over dinner this year, she mentioned that, during a lull in her business, she had started writing a novel, inspired by Harry Potter.  But this was a business novel.  It immediately brought up a memory for me from Jack Trout (“Mr. Positioning” and one of my early marketing muses).  Back in 2002, Jack wrote a book called “A Genie’s Wisdom: A Fable of How a CEO Learned to Be a Marketing Genius.”  It was a whimsical take on strategic marketing.  I loved it.

As Jill told the story, a number of us immediately asked if she would share it with us.  She was wondering if she should finish it.  My gut said yes.

Then she shared it with me. She started writing the book in 2000, before “A Genie’s Wisdom” had been published (great minds….?).  Its the tale of a salesperson who has been successful, but is now struggling in the face of new competition and market changes.  Anyone ever experience that?

As the story progresses, a wizard helps her  overcome obstacles–often with ideas that seem obvious after they are revealed.

Source: Jill Konrath

Source: Jill Konrath

And it’s a story that still applies today.

My immediate takeaway—everything in this “business novel” still applies today.    It’s about fundamentals.   And fundamentals–whether in business or life or sports–rarely change.  The situation changes.  There are new techniques, new tools, and new ideas.  The situation changes.  But the fundamentals stay the same.

Unfortunately, in the wake of new techniques, new tools, and new ideas, it’s easy to forget the fundamentals.   And then we lose our way.   When Gartner (as CEB) introduced Challenger, it was heralded as one of the freshest, newest ideas in selling.  And it was a great new perspective that still matters today.  It is still a focus for Gartner Research and Advisory efforts.  But underneath the covers, it is based on an age old fundamental–understanding your customer and their situation deeply.

This is what Jill’s book reminded me of.  She put some “fun” back into fundamentals and provided an important reminder.

I’d love for Jill to finish the book and think you will to.   If you want to read where it’s at to date, Jill has made it available here.   Give it a read and let Jill know what you think.

I’m ready to hear the rest of the story.

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: b2b  challenger  customer-understanding  fundamentals  sales  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

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