Gloves off
Illustration: Adam Fitzcharles

Still wearing gloves?

Look out!

Fight night at the Budokan, industry regulated ring size, judges take their seats, ring ladies and coaches ringside, announcer grabs the microphone to announce the fighters...

You did your roadwork, worked with your coach, it’s your 10th fight, you feel ready as you step onto the canvas…You squeeze your fists under your gloves….swallowing your fear, you ready yourself…

Then all the lights go out in the entire arena, and all you hear is screaming and yelling.

After a tense moment, the lights go back on and the whole place is brawling, throwing chairs, beer bottles and making their way into the ring at you and everyone else.

Question: In that situation, would you keep your gloves on?

“Of course not!” is the common knee-jerk answer.

Switching examples, ask your sales manager about his sales people, are they trying to do business the same way they did back in August 2008 before the lights went out?

Honestly, look at what everyone is doing everyday in the office.

Are they trying to fit their model to adapt to the market, or are they running around trying to find people wanting to do business like the “good old days”?

Blaming poor results on the “market” is like blaming the mob for not coming at you one at a time.

Below are some tips with dealing with the mob (market) as it comes at you.

First of all, take your gloves off and stop fighting like a ring fighter, the rules changed, and this aint a one-on-one fight anymore.

1. Opportunities from now on will be fewer and farther between, therefore prepare yourself for more smaller deals that require more leg work.

2. “Unbundle” your big service packages & stop throwing the damn kitchen sink at everyone with your proposals. The point is to close business now and get more work in the future with this client.

3. Stop saying “we don’t want to dilute our brand” and reject "un-sexy or boring" projects, or I will hit you with a beer bottle myself.

I heard that for months after the crash, then these same people started calling me asking to borrow money.

Close deals, get smaller projects rolling, worry about your “artistic expression” and “unique market leverage” next year in Q3, after all the cowboys have packed up and moved out of dodge.

4. Focus your activities and offerings on want HELPS your client’s situation in the short to mid-term, if that’s what they are asking for. As a business partner you must focus on HELPING and not being “right”.

5. Reduce entertainment and all client expenses across the board.

We all saw just how “loyal” many of our clients where when they were about to lose their jobs! Buy them a doughnut, no more fancy dinners! Just do business in good faith, that’s enough for anyone.

Ask yourself these questions before you start your day:

1. How can I help my client’s situation with my products/services? (Knowing those needs may have changed recently)

2. Which person there has the pen to sign this contract?

3. What do I need to do, to get a meeting with that person?

Everyone is focusing on results, make sure in this new reality, you are too.

Don't get caught trying to score points when the other guy has a chair.

Other posts by Jason de Luca:


Good article,

Adapt to the change sales people. I remember in 2002, all the sales people did was blame each other and the market.

I like the spin the writer put on this article !


Continuing with your Fight-night metaphor, this is not surprising to see.

It is said, and easily supported through empirical evidence, that militaries always seek to fight the last war.

And we see the same thing in business, most obviously today.

What worked when the market was strong and the tide rising doesn't work when the thunderstorms and floods roll in.

We see the results of this across all industries, but especially so in the Japan recruiting industry where what worked 5 years ago, heck even 18 months ago, is now simply a sure way to bankrupt a company.

Change is needed and yet where do these firms turn for the change and how do they implement the change without upsetting fiefdoms, bruising fragile egg-shell egos, cannibalizing short term profits, missing sales target and bonuses or stirring up a hornet's nest of office politics?

The answers are out there but most do not have the courage to go there.

-- James