Sales Skunkworks

Where's yours? Who's there? What's their brief?

The term skunkworks originated with a team formed after WW2 at Lockheed Martin, working on classified, military projects.

Famous examples elsewhere range from how the Americans sought to better the Soviets who started the space race, through more recently to Amazon's Kindle and Gmail.

As for a definition, how about this, from ChatGPT;

Any project or division within an organisation that operates in a highly autonomous and often secretive manner to develop innovative and groundbreaking products or solutions.

Later in our 'chat', it also re-iterated angles of "unconventional and fast-paced innovation efforts" emphasising "secrecy". I'd also add that such endeavours are outside of normal, existing R&D set-ups. Often with a deliberately cross-functional make-up. And perhaps most significantly, short lifespan by design.

It's not really a widespread term in my native England. Nor is the alternative my ᴀɪbot friend seemed to think was instead in use; Special Projects.

I had to explain the real-world, euphemistic meaning of that. I suggest whatever you call your skunkwork initiative, do not use that one. (Likewise, don't get sent on such mission yourself, hey...)

Anyway. I could have tagged this post with any or all of new products, process, presentations, proposals, VideoCallsThatSell.

My point being to truly succeed - in that outperforming, repeatable, sustainable way - you need your Sales Lab. I also refer to the Benches and sometimes protoselling.

Lately I've mused on these through a failed NFT fad tie-in, and Sales R&D in general.

Here, I make the distinction between the ongoing refinement of your sales process and the preparation and promotion of your selling of tomorrow today and the more covert approach mentioned above.

You might even label skunkwork selling as Extreme Sales.

It falls beyond the typical, sometimes Sales Ops, often the 2i/c, led projects.

Although in my experience sadly, the tendency is for the former there to get too obsessed with reporting, and the latter sidetracked with vanity projects.

The furtive nature of a true skunkworks suggests issues with upheaval potential may be options. Yet I'm more positive.

The incorporation of potential new partners, technology or techniques may be more suited to this 'skunk' slant than the trad RnD. Let alone the self-styled Moonshot Factory at Google.

In any case, you're less likely to make something happen in this regard if you don't already have such a structure. And such a place you absolutely must have.

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