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Offense, Defense, Advocacy During a Downturn

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

"...offensive operations, often times, is the surest, if not the only (in some cases) means of defence."

- George Washington, 1799 (reference)

The best defense is a good offense is an adage applied by many: Washington, Patton, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, football coaches...

The idea is that taking action keeps the opposition off balance and leads to a competitive advantage.

Because the guys busy defending the castle can't also defend nearby villages, crops, allies... much less harass their attacker's castles, villages, crops & allies.

Battle Lines

Business operates the same way - there's a constant balancing act between offense and defense. Once offense is suspended, it's hard to sustain much less grow the business.

When there's a recession or an industry downturn, most companies go on the defense by cutting spending everywhere they can.

But in a flat or declining market, it's more important than ever to capture revenue and market share.

To do that, they need to win what work is still available - or create new opportunities for revenue - to cover fixed costs and remain profitable.

That only happens when they demonstrate what makes their solution different and valuable (the alternatives are loss of revenue and market share... or dropping prices faster than the competition but further eroding margins).

And that requires having skilled advocates that interact with your customers.

Developing, sharpening, and retaining sales & advocacy skills requires a budget for training and coaching.

Corporate Storytelling should be one of those skills.

Even during a downturn.

Evidence this is needed:

Many of my clients are in Oil & Gas. The industry is coming out of a three year downturn - and that recovery has been tepid at best. Most drastically cut their training & development budgets - and therefore the development of the people they rely on to sustain and grow their organizations. Their defensive posture reduced their ability to gain market share, protect pricing & margins, hire the best & brightest, invest in better infrastructure & technology.

Evidence it works:

A large EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) client bucked the trend and invested in advocacy skills throughout the downturn. They used message coaching to win deals. They rolled out new training programs for Corporate Storytelling and Proposal Advocacy. The result was improving their win/advance rate by 71% and landing more than $780MM in revenue.

What you can do:

Start preparing for battle. Because if you don't, you may well find your business trapped and under siege when the next downturn comes.


Kevin Paylow is a Corporate Storyteller at Deliberate Consulting. He helps clients develop and deliver persuasive messages that drive action. He can help you build your battle plan and find room in your budget - even in a downturn.

Follow him on Twitter @DeliberateKevin

©2019 Deliberate Consulting LLC

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