In his latest book, David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcolm Gladwell once again combines psychology, business and science to impart powerful life lessons. At a glance, David & Goliath seems like a narrative about small versus big, start-up entrepreneur against established big business, but the lesson is actually much broader. This book is about how to win against all odds. It’s about overcoming adversity. More than that, David & Goliath makes the case that adversity breeds the very resilience, perseverance, creativity and tenacity that facilitate success. Of course, this is exactly why the message is so relevant for sales professionals.
All of Gladwell’s books (Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw) are compelling because they challenge us to rethink the way we view the world around us. In David & Goliath, Gladwell asks readers to consider what an “advantage” is. He shares with us examples both historic and current to illustrate how much of what is important and great in this world arose from hardship and adversity. His point? The power of sheer effort combined with the power of the spirit (heart, soul and imagination) is equal to or greater than any material advantage.
Who among us has not gone into a sales situation as the underdog? Remember that in every sales situation you have a strategic advantage. The key is to figure out what the advantage is, and then leverage it to its full potential. Take the time to assess your competitor’s strategic advantage and work to neutralize it. Above all, make sure you are fully engaging the advantage of your own motivation, perseverance, excitement, imagination, commitment and insight. These are tantamount to David’s rock and sling.