Foxes & Hedgehogs

Foxes_and_hedgehogsWoody Allen, the ancient Greek poet Archilochus, and Sir Isaiah Berlin, a 20th century philosopher.

Strange group, but they all have an association with foxes and hedgehogs.

I’ll make that group a little stranger still by adding you to it. That is if you sell service contracts, or, if you buy them.

Sit tight and I’ll try and make sense of this. Starting chronologically:

The Greek poet Archilochus

He wrote a poem, long time ago you bet, saying that people can be divided into two groups: foxes and hedgehogs.

The difference being the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

Sir Isaiah Berlin

A historian and philosopher, his essay titled “The Hedgehog and the Fox“, grouped writers and thinkers into either one or the other.

His hedgehogs view the world through the lens of a single defining idea (examples include Plato, Ibsen, and Proust).

His foxes draw on a wide variety of experiences and cannot boil down the world down into a single idea (examples given include Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Joyce).

Woody Allen

In his 1992 movie Husbands and Wives Woody had Judy Davis‘ character ponder which of her acquaintances were foxes and which were hedgehogs. She was trying to make sense of individuals’ behavior.


If you sell service contracts you’ve probably already identified yourself as one or the other. Doesn’t matter which, you decide for yourself.

Here’s why it matters when trying to sell service contracts.

You have to figure out which one your prospective customer is: fox or hedgehog.


Because that’s how you have to present your proposed service solution.

If your Prospect is a Hedgehog

Casting no aspersions here, there’s nothing wrong with being a hedgehog.

Remember, hedgehogs know one big thing.

As the sales resource your job is to find out what that one big thing is.

Then bring all your proposed service solution back to that one big thing.

For example, if your prospective customer is in the Petrochemical business the one big thing she knows is the importance of safety. Reasonable considering her firm’s work environment.

In that situation you can’t talk about safety only for hours at a time.

You can however present a comprehensive safety program first…

…then present the other aspects of your service solution…

…and at the end of each description, show how they tie back to your comprehensive safety program.

You can, and should, do this in your written responses in the customers’ Request for Proposal (RFP).

Even more importantly, you must do this when you make the short-list for presentations. This is where customers need to hear you “walk the talk” they read in your proposal responses.

If your Prospect is a Fox

Foxes, in this case, know many things, not necessarily that they’re carnivores.

As the sales resource your job is to find out what are all, or most, of those things they know.


Foxes will be looking at a wide range of areas that you, as a prospective supplier, must address.

Therefore, in your written RFP responses you must be more inclusive than narrowly focused.

When answering a question, make sure to list the multiple components of your service solution that solve that underlying issue.

Same with the short-list presentation. Make sure your preparation and performance addresses the range of components you offer, the multi-faceted solution you’ve designed.


There you have it. Foxes and hedgehogs in the service contract world.

Are these definitive guides from which to build a marketing campaign? Or base a sales plan around?

No and no.

They’re just a couple of sophisticated sales ideas that are easy to remember as animals.

What are you, fox or hedgehog?

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ

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