We all know there’s no single magic key to increase sales and profit successfully in business.
So, how is it that some firms increase sales and profit so powerfully, year after year?
Is your business doing that? If not, could trust be the missing element?

Why profit and sales pass away without trust?

I was talking to a CEO of a wonderfully successful business the other day. One thing he said really struck me:“If our Leadership team did not trust each other totally, we would never have achieved the results we have.” 

That is the same message I have heard loud and clear from every company that consistently grows at 15% or more, year after year. I would like to share a story with you:

How trust changed the course of history

It was August 1704. King Louis XIV ruled France and seemed to be an unstoppable force, taking control of more and more of Europe. Indeed, he had been consistently victorious for over 60 years!

Louis’ next target was Vienna, the Habsburg capital, and Emperor Leopold. This was a crucial point in what was called The War of Spanish Succession. If he was successful, little would stop him from becoming ruler of all Europe. The Franco-Bavarian forces consisted of two French armies and the Bavarians. They had roughly 60,000 troops of variable quality but including the cream of the French infantry and cavalry.
John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough[1], was Captain General of the English/Dutch army in the Netherlands.  Realizing the threat to Austria, he hoodwinked the French (and Dutch politicians!), making his famous march up the Rhine to Southern Germany. There, in conjunction with Austrian forces, he brought the French, and their Bavarian allies, to battle at Blenheim, a small village on the Danube, North of Augsburg. Marlborough’s army and the Austrians, led by Prince Eugene of Savoy[2], who was the most successful general in the Imperial Austrian forces, numbered some 52,000 troops including contingents from Hanover, Denmark, Prussia and Hesse.

Coming from behind – to win

The odds were against the Allies at the Battle of Blenheim for 3 reasons:

  1. Generally armies will only attack if they have at least double, if not triple, the number of men. The Allies had fewer troops
  2. With 60 years of French victories, it seemed almost certain that the French would win
  3. To reach the French army, the Allies had to cross the small river called Nebel. This made it hard to maintain formation, making them very vulnerable.

The Allied troops attacked. Prince Eugene was on the right hand side. Marlborough positioned his larger force in the centre and on the left [3].

It was almost a disaster

Once the battle was in full swing Marlborough realized the enemy was threatening to split the Allied forces. If they had managed to do so he knew it would be disastrous.

So he sent an urgent message to Eugene asking him to lend him his heavy cavalry. The ground Prince Eugene was covering was very hard going and he was fully stretched.
Yet he did not hesitate for even one moment.
Due to the impressive strategic thinking he had seen from Marlborough prior to the battle he trusted his judgment, relinquishing his own vital resources despite fact that he was is such a the spot himself.

Blazing success

As a result, the allies won the battle – as indeed you probably already knew.

Many of the French fled and thousands were surrounded in Blenheim[4] itself.The Allies’ success over Louis’s armies was momentous. The victory changed the course of history and sent shockwaves across the whole continent.
What is more, Vienna was safe.
Louis’ hopes of controlling Europe anytime soon were dashed. An amazing turn around given the situation just beforehand.
Blenheim has gone down in history as one of the turning points of the War of the Spanish Succession[5].” Marlborough was feted throughout Allied Europe, especially in England.  You may already know that he was rewarded with a manorial estate in Oxfordshire and the money to build Blenheim Palace.[6]

The magic ingredient to successful sales and profit

Allowing a colleague to use your precious team resources, especially at a time when you are stretched to the full, takes massive trust. That level of trust is extremely rare in business.

Before it can exist, several other elements need to be in evidence. The leaders need to know how to:

  • Gain laser clarity about where they are taking the business and how they will get there
  • Build strong confidence in their people that their efforts will be put to good use
  • Develop a strong culture of trust across the company

Interesting research into what inspires staff shows that the three factors listed above are extremely important. It may sound hard to bring them about but companies growing profitably 15% or more year after year do just that. In fact, they have become unusually good at strategic thinking. Strategic thinking that builds strong clarity, confidence and trust – just as The Duke of Marlborough manage so impressively!

You also have the ability to build an unstoppable army. Your company can also enjoy the excellent business results.

We guide companies to develop successful business strategies – to build this level of trust.
For an informal conversation about your company please call us on 0207 0604 006.
Written by Jane Bromley and with military advice from Hugh Hancock


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