Horses, Courses & Jockeys

From those long ago first forays into sales management, among many facets, I quickly learned to impress upon sellers an order in which they ought, namely;

sell yourself first, then the company, then the product.

Whereas most seemed to get these the wrong way 'round. Pitching product upfront is not the path to sustainable, repeatable sales success.

In fact, you might even take this further. Why ever talk 'product', when you could be focusing on the issue at hand as the prospect experiences it?

I often railed against talking 'product' at all.

In the days before the internet, I recall instructionals that would trumpet this angle as a key trap to avoid, between 'telling and selling'.

I was reminded of this best-practice to suppress temptation of raw product evangelism through a venture capital saying.

I'd heard the term jockey before used to describe someone parachuted in at funder behest to run a fledgling business and let the usually tech or operational laced founders stick to what they know best.

It seems this label can refer to any start-up (or scale-up) chief exec.

And normally applies within the specific framework where;

"[funding] is about horses, courses, and jockeys".

The horse being the company, course the strategy, and jockey the ᴄᴇᴏ.

Given the private equity rule of thumb that of the 200 companies the typical practitioner will look at each year, they only invest in four, having the right alignment around this trio seems no mean feat.

What's useful with this saying, is that it builds on the universally known 'horses for courses' metaphor.

And however you view it, the jockey is likely a specific, pivotal person.

Making it ripe for Sales remixing.

Especially if your prospect is in the orbit of the VC world, partial to inorganic growth or are to some extent financiers themselves.

You could suggest the three as you see them. Or ask them for their slant.

For instance, the horse could be your wares. Course, the pet project you'd propel. Jockey, the person with most to gain who can make it happen inside the potential client.

It's also a useful qualifier. If they cannot think of their version, then is a deal really on? Can you fill the blanks? Are they game to try fill them?

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