The four of them sauntered into the conference room. They were big players: CEO, chief financial officer, vice president and chairman of the board. They had a problem and didn’t know what to do about it. Their company was sitting on a highly publicized multimillion-dollar project and they were more qualified than any of their competitors to land the job. In fact, they were the only company uniquely qualified to produce a product wanted and needed by the government.
Yet, this was somewhat of a David and Goliath situation and they were David, not Goliath. That’s why their fear was mounting by the minute as time was running out. You see, like the biblical version of David and Goliath, David was just a small shepherd boy who seemed unequipped to take on the giant warrior Goliath.
In this case, Goliath was about to launch a pre-emptive strike to shut David out of the selection process. Goliath had connections at the top and the political ability to twist a few arms, figure out a way to manufacture the much-wanted product faster and in larger quantities. David was intimidated by the giant and not quite sure how to compete.
So we brainstormed. David wanted to pitch the business by talking about his company’s history, formulas for success, and how he could out smart Goliath. But this was not about Goliath. This was about David, what David could offer and why he was stronger than Goliath even if appearances suggested the opposite. David needed to concentrate on David by focusing on his strengths, showcasing his brand and answering a few key questions to think through his strategy in advance.
What sets David apart? How does David help other people? What can David accomplish for this prospective client and what will it mean to them and their customers?
Once David started to verbalize his vision and how his people have solved countless problems for others, he began to change the way he approached his fears and his perceived inability to compete started to shrink. In fact, what happened startled David even more than it eventually shocked Goliath. David identified strengths he never knew he had. Instead of talking about his company and his services, he focused on why his approach meant so much to his customers and how his products had changed their lives. He stopped focusing on processes and minutia that only meant something to manufacturers and industry experts and started telling stories about real people like the customers who valued him.
David became more excited about his business than he had been in years and it showed. Despite Goliath’s best attempts to shut him out, like the little shepherd boy, David put a stone in his sling and flung it. Not only did he get an invite to present his plan, but his passion, enthusiasm and confidence filled up the room with a roar prospects hadn’t heard from this little company in years.
Having qualifications, systems, know-how and experience is not enough. People want to feel what it will be like to work with you. They want to feel your energy. They want to feel your excitement for what they care about.
Undoubtedly there are many big companies that don’t consider small businesses a real threat. Perhaps they should take a lesson from this David and the biblical David. In both cases, David’s stone slammed big bully Goliath right in the head and killed him. Both Davids won. The little shepherd boy saved the Israelites. Our David won a multimillion-dollar contract and re-energized his business.
But in reality, he won a lot more. Like the David before him, he learned not to cower in the face of adversity. He learned that his vision, when delivered clearly and compassionately, was really what mattered. He learned that when you approach your fears and work to push past them, you can overcome enormous challenges that will reap bigger rewards than you may have imagined.