A Truck Load of Analogies

One of the clearest pieces of communication I have ever heard given to an enterprise sales team leveraged my favorite analogy, that of the go-to-market truck.

“All I want you to do is sell everything we have on the truck, nothing else”

Now there are people who do drive real trucks full of stock around and sell it. In fact, it is a well-established business model in some industries. I have met a handful of people in enterprise technology sales who started their careers doing it. There are however not enough of them to explain why the analogy resonates so well with their peers. How the idea of a truck that takes product from the factory to the customers and the roles that are needed along that chain are so easily understood. It is easy to see product teams as the factories, marketing ensuring potential customers can recognize the truck and understand what is in it, sales operations keep the delivery network is working, sales teams getting customers to allow them to drive the trucks up to the unloading docks and taking the order with services teams helping with the unloading.

For me it has become a useful analogy to explain the different things I have done in my career. Early on I spent some time in the factory on an assembly line building the products. More of my time though has been spent making sure the right things are being put on the trucks by defining product strategies, rationalizing portfolios and building solutions that make the products easier to consume. I have developed and then taught truck drivers how to tell the stories of the products and portfolios. When products on the truck have been new or complex to unload, I have hired and trained specialists to act as driver’s assistants. I have been on thousands of ride-along trips where I helped the drivers explain what was on the truck and what will be coming on later trucks. I have worked with other factories to get access to their products or their truck network through technology partnerships and alliances, and I have gone out and found new factories to buy so that we can get their goods, factory workers, trucks and truck drivers. The only thing I have not actually done is been the truck driver, although there have been occasions when I have had to help out by grabbing the steering wheel or changing gears. Ironic really as there was a time when I was licensed to drive an 18-wheeler on the highways of Europe!

Like all great tools the analogy is also fungible and easy to extend. With the advent of the cloud there are new ways that we are getting our products and services to market. In recent years, I have worked on projects to replicate the work that Amazon and others are doing by using analogy drones to deliver APIs and technology directly into the hands of developers.

Do you have a go to analogy that you have used for years and has developed with use? If not I have a truckload of them.

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