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The Heart Attack Moment

August 9, 2016

(Editor’s note: Heart disease is a serious issue. This content by no means trivializes the impacts heart disease has on individuals and families. Also note, the below is not intended to serve as medical advice.)
 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year.1 Further, the CDC asserts that several of the risk factors are things within patients’ control: like weight, diet, and activity level. 
 

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of conversations happening in doctors’ offices around the country each day warning patients to make changes or face the consequences. Many patients ignore the advice, asking for Band-Aids in the form of prescriptions. And then? The heart attack moment. For many, this is a fatal moment; for others, they recover and (hopefully) take the necessary steps to never experience that again.
 

We see similarities with our audiences in sales and marketing. The people we’re trying to talk to? They “know better” than us. They refuse to speak to us. They are “too busy” or have some other hang-up about sales people.  Decision-makers decide that instead of filtering out the good information from the bad, it’s is better to build giant walls to protect themselves from all sales people. 
 

Without question, there are bad sales people out there. But your job as a decision-maker is to filter out the bad and not isolate your business with giant walls.  In writing this piece, I stumbled across an image that illustrates this point:

 

 

At some point, you may experience your own heart attack moment. You closed yourself off from the outside world, and in the process you didn’t see it change. You didn’t evolve with the environment, and now your arsenal of skills is primitive at best. In sales, we get to talk to many different people and often have a good handle on market conditions. Many of us are great resources to the customers we serve, but too seldom do people take us up on an offer to learn more. 
 

Am I being a bit of a sensationalist? Let’s look at a real world example. 
 

Kodak saw the early warning signs– but thought they knew better. I can almost see sales people desperately trying to call Kodak’s decision-makers about the advances in digital technology, trying to get them on board with the changing landscape. I can also see those decision-makers flagging the emails as spam and refusing to take meetings. Kodak decided to keep their focus on film and ignore the “pushy” sales people. 
 

The result? Hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. Millions of people lost money (i.e., investors via Kodak’s eventual bankruptcy) and the company continues to struggle today to redefine itself. These are real people who lost jobs. Real people who lost money. Kodak had a heart attack moment and hasn’t been the same since. 
 

I get it; you really are busy! But investing time to see what else is out there? This is never wasted time. The system we’ve built today with technological intermediaries– entire divisions of intermediaries (I’m looking at you, supply chain)– will stifle innovation. Organizations that believe they are experts in all areas of business are fooling themselves. And your heart attack moment may be coming. 

 

  1. 1 Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015;131:e29-322

 

 

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