F-I-D-O — The Secret to Maintaining a Full Sales Funnel

I spent some time in the USMC. Anyone who knows me knows that my experiences there profoundly influenced the man I am today, both personally and professionally. I didn’t realize it at the time but I now realize that the lessons I learned there became the foundation of the successes I’ve enjoyed thus far. Every military recruiter tells you, “the experience you gain will propel you to a great future!” Recruiters say a lot of things to inspire you to join, this one actually held true for me. It wasn’t until I got into sales that I realized that recruiters are the Sales Guys of the military. I’m glad I bought their product.

One of those lessons was F-I-D-O. I need to tell a story here in order to explain this, so please bear with me and read on.

I was a “Grunt” in the Corps. My MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was 0311 — Infantry. I had the “privilege” of carrying the M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) as the machine gunner for my fire team. Typically this honor is bestowed upon the biggest of the junior Marines on the team. Weighing in at roughly 23.33 lbs. the fully loaded SAW weighs almost 3 times as much as the standard issue (at the time) M16 A4 at 8.79 lbs. On top of that you normally carry at least 4 x 200-round drums of ammo weighing 27.68 lbs., giving you a total weight of roughly 40 lbs. The term “light machine gun” apparently has very little to do with the actual weight of the weapon.

I was named the SAW gunner for my team shortly before we deployed to Iraq in ‘04. Two of the former SAW gunners in our squad had promoted to Corporal and were no longer required to carry her. From then on I carried her with me everywhere I went. Yes, we even shared a sleeping bag each night. I had shot the gun in training and even carried her on some short field exercises, but never for an extended period of time.

On our first field training exercise at 29 Palms, CA the heat was killer at 100+ degrees in the shade. They say it’s a “dry heat”, but 100+ degrees is HOT! This is especially true when you’re carrying all of that extra weight. I made the “boot” (aka rookie) mistake of complaining to one of those Corporals about the weight of the SAW and all the gear needed to support her. His response stuck with me and became one of those foundational lessons which would later drive my success in sales. With a smirk on his face he simply said, “FIDO, Devil Dog!!”and slapped me on the back. Being a “boot” in the platoon I didn’t want to sound like I didn’t understand. So I enthusiastically responded with the standard Marine Corps response, “Oorah, Corporal!!” That night while we were “enjoying” our MREs I asked one of my fellow boots what “FIDO” meant. He was the SAW gunner for his fire team and had been with the unit a little longer than me. He said, “F*** IT and DRIVE ON.” Throughout that deployment I came to realize that this was a standard response from NCOs and leadership any time junior Marines would start to complain (as junior Marines tend to do).

“I didn’t get to call my girlfriend on our last down day because the lines were too long, Sergeant!” F-I-D-O

“This 120 degree heat is killing me, Corporal!” F-I-D-O

“I haven’t slept for more than 3 hours at once in 2 weeks, Gunny!” F-I-D-O

We quickly figured out that complaining upstream wasn’t going to do us any good. So we just complained amongst ourselves with the other boots. Then our leaders’ influence became apparent as we began telling each other, “F-I-D-O, Devil Dog!” Eventually the complaints pretty much ceased altogether as we all learned to suck it up, accept our situation and drive on toward Mission Accomplishment. After all, aside from protecting one another Mission Accomplishment is the main priority for every Marine. I finally realized that was the point. There’s no use in complaining about your situation. Accept it and push forward. Instead of complaining we learned to IMPROVISE, ADAPT, and OVERCOME.

When I promoted to Corporal and later to Sergeant this response became my standard response when my Marines would complain. It just worked and it stuck with me when I later joined the civilian workforce as a copier salesman in TX.

I had an awesome manager who taught us how to cold call, conduct a consultative discovery meeting, prepare a value proposition presentation, and close deals. He liked me because I was good at “following orders”. Those are my words, he would call it coaching not “orders”. I interpreted them as orders because that allowed me to push through the un-fun aspects of the job or setbacks with F-I-D-O.

I used this concept to propel me through days of laborious and monotonous prospecting:

“I don’t really want to do 50 field cold-calls and 50 phone cold-calls today!” F-I-D-O

I used it to stay focused after losing a deal:

“I can’t believe I lost that deal after 2 months of work!” F-I-D-O

This is how F-I-D-O helped me to keep my sales funnel full and stay on target against my quota and prospecting goals. Two skills that I believe are vital for EVERY salesperson regardless of what you’re selling.

As sales professionals we MUST prospect in order to find new opportunities and keep our funnels full. Depending on what you’re selling and what your closing ratios are you typically need to have at least 7–10 times your quota “working” at various stages in order to truly have a full funnel and consistently hit your numbers or overachieve. Today we have plenty of tools at our fingertips which make it possible to find net-new opportunities without cold-calling. That’s a topic for another post. Just be smart and realize that you HAVE to do the work to find the opportunities, especially when it’s not “fun”.

Applying the F-I-D-O concept will empower you to push through the hard work and get on to the fun part of actually selling and closing deals. Just remember that there are roughly 20 working days in each month. If you can find at least 1 net-new opportunity each day (regardless of potential close date), then you’re adding 20 net-new opportunities to your funnel each month and that snowballs to keep your funnel full.

One of the most painful lessons for me to learn in my first year in sales was that I wasn’t going to win every deal. Even when my pricing was right, my value prop was solid, and the buyer really “liked” me (Sales Managers LOVE hearing this one!). After I lost my second deal in a row I realized that I wasn’t applying F-I-D-O and was allowing my failures to impact my drive and willingness to keep pushing myself toward success. Once I fixed that and refocused on accepting my failures and learning from them things started working out. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t comfortable but I believe the only way we truly grow and continually improve is to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones.

Later on as a Sales Manager and Sales Director in the copier, telecomm and cloud industries I introduced my sales teams to F-I-D-O. Some of them didn’t get it and even felt it was overly simplistic. Those were typically the ones who had the tougher One-on-Ones with me because they were consistently missing their prospecting targets which led to their funnels being weak, and that normally led to them not hitting their quotas. The few that did get it regularly led the team in all of those Key Performance Indicators and were making substantially more money than their under-performing peers.

Next time you’re feeling bogged down by the mundane or seemingly menial tasks in your job, you’ve lost a few deals, or you’re failing at anything don’t let those feelings consume you. F-I-D-O to Mission Accomplishment and greater success!

***DISCLAIMER*** I don’t necessarily condone cursing in a professional setting. But you don’t have to actually say the word in order to get the point.

Thanks for reading my post. I hope you find it helpful in overcoming whatever is bogging you down today. Please let me know if there’s ever anything I can do to help you.


Todd Scarborough



If you liked this article then here are a couple of my other posts you may enjoy as well.

PTSD = My Business Superpower

Stop selling Cloud!!!

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