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Sales and Marketing Progress Begins by Asking Better Questions

The Kingdom of Success

A parable about a powerful king and his keys to success

Once upon a time, a king lived in a beautiful castle surrounded by wealth and beauty that he thought would last forever. Yet one day, a herald reported that three knights had entered his kingdom and were taking over markets, shrinking the king’s revenues, and spreading gloom among the king’s knights throughout the land. The king was alarmed and asked his treasurer for their names and what special weapons they possessed.

His treasurer replied, "The first is the Red Knight. His weapon is knowledge. The second is the Orange Knight, whose weapon is skill. The third is the Green Knight, whose weapon is motivation."

Wondering how to fight these three knights, the king summoned his blacksmith and charged him with creating longer and sharper swords for his own knights to fight off the dangerous trio.

"Sire," said the blacksmith, "instead of asking your knights to live by the sword, why don't you lead them to the cutting edge?" This was an unusual request, and the king was puzzled. “How do you mean?” the king inquired. 

"I beg you to look at your P&L statement," the blacksmith explained. "It is nothing more than the sum total of your people's knowledge, skills, and motivation. Consider the Red Knight. He knows more, and he has access to more knowledge, and that is why he makes your knights look obsolete in the marketplace."

The king shook his head while the blacksmith continued: "Before you can replenish your treasure chests, you must replenish your knights' well of knowledge. They must understand their customers better, know their markets better, and think proactively and productively about every phase of their work. If their knowledge is not relevant, they will be shown the door.”

The King stroked his beard and asked, "What about the Orange Knight who defeats our knights?" The blacksmith said, "When the king's knights go forth into the marketplace, do they know how the people want to be sold? Do they use the best playbooks with the best messages and techniques for identifying customer problems and cocreating the best solutions that impact their customer’s business?” The king's face turned red. He knew that he had to lead his knights to the cutting edge of professionalism.

"What about the Green Knight?" asked the king. "I've tried to motivate my people with fresh carrots and strong sticks." The blacksmith replied, "Your Highness, the knights have grown bored with your carrots, and every time you reach for the stick, they run for cover or look for better jobs in a far away kingdom.”

Anticipating the next royal question, the blacksmith pointed to the king's bookshelf. "May I quote your own words from your book of the history of your great kingdom? ‘All motivation is self-motivation, but occasionally, you must prime the pump.' I would suggest that you talk to your knights, listen to them, inspire them, coach them, and share your vision of a more prosperous kingdom. You did it so well when you started your kingdom with nothing but an idea drawn on a napkin. Your passion moved mountains.”

The king smiled, and at that moment the blacksmith knew that he had helped the king reconnect with the power he’d invested when his kingdom existed only in his head. The king gave the blacksmith a handful of precious stones and retreated into his private quarters to consider his options.

 The king created a scroll that he had delivered to each and every knight in the kingdom. The scroll contained the 10 keys to sales success:


The king’s scroll lead his knights back to the cutting edge, and soon his kingdom prospered once more.

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Clever story.
Thanks for sharing.

Dick Orlando

Terrific parable that I'll share with all my sales reps tomorrow. Thank you!
Change in behavior is difficult in the technology industry. Fortunes have been "earned" and "lost" in high tech, yet the lessons of the past need to be re-learned or knowledge of the past needs to be "unlearned" (stolen from Gerhard)in the 2.0 customer driven realities of today. Remember mainframes to mini computers, mini computers to PC's, propietary software to open standard OS, premise based to SaaS, and so on........
Gerhard, thanks for giving me my teachings for this week's sales meeting!


smiled throughout reading your fine story and i will make a copy of the 10 commandments for my own desk.
Now i wonder what real life profession the blacksmith is in :)

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