Have you heard the story of the chicken and the pig? My co-founder Bryan introduced me to it – and how I can use it to bail out of our standup.

It’s a funny story about how projects have two kinds of people working on them. Some are fully committed, like a pig opening a restaurant that serves ham (dark!). And some are just kind of half-attached, like a chicken contributing a few eggs to go alongside that ham. One is giving all of themselves to the project, while the other helps a bit from the sides.

So if I’m on the build standup meeting, and I don’t have anything to contribute, I can just say “chicken” and hang out.

It’s a cute story. But it also reminded me of a half-hearted partnership we make all the time in sales – free trials for our champions! We smell a fowl coming from a mile away, but we do it to ourselves anyway: They’re willing to do a trial! They’re even the ones that brought it up! At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

But honestly? They’re not putting their pork butts on the line like we are. We have no power, no success criteria, and no mutual action plan. And when we press them for details, their feathers get all ruffled and they threaten to fly the coop.

So why do we allow it?

In the story, the pig just bails from the restaurant plan. But in sales, you’ve gotta be opening 2-3 new restaurants every month. There’s not enough committed chickens to partner with. So sometimes, it means you need to overcommit with the hope that the chicken eventually starts serving up those drumsticks too.

The only problem? This narrative eventually turns into mutually assured destruction – everyone’s losing a body part. But maybe that’s the whole point. You can’t afford to always say no – so you just need to know the risks and mitigate them.

Try three ideas: 

  1. Find other forms of champion enablement instead. Think about recordings of your demo, access to sandboxes, really smart and bespoke collateral and so on. Just ask yourself if dumping people into a full trial is the only ‘access’ that could meet their needs.
  2. Find more creative ways to get attached to projects the chicken will commit to. Maybe your chicken wants to be the chef or keep the books or try internet marketing! Make sure you’ve found something worth committing to and it’s not just the first whisper of a pain point from the very first call.
  3. Find ways to attract other members of the chicken’s coop that will help all three of you succeed. (Talk about dark, but…) You only need to be let in. You don’t really care who let you in, right? So stop filling your basket with eggs from one chicken!

In the end, the sales rep doesn’t have the luxury the pig from the story has – you can’t just say no. It’s on the sales rep to find new ways to build productive partnerships to win deals.

But yeah – chicken for me on standup tomorrow. I’m sleeping in!