Hercule Poirot – Business Development Master [& Sleuth]

Agatha Christie’s protagonist of 55 works was a master of business development, not just a private detective. Hercule Poirot the ex-Belgian policeman managed to solve cases for (mostly) affluent people who sought his special help. A rare diamond necklace stolen? An Earl’s daughter disappeared? He was their famous man. But that was not always the case for him. Starting out humbly in a small English town as a new immigrant without any means but his “little grey cells”, he solved mysterious crimes on his own initiative, It seemed as if he had accidentally stumbled upon the criminal events. Throughout his career too, cases of wealthy distressed people landed into his lap – on a golf vacation, a trip on the Nile, a ski resort… But oh, if you think it’s true, then you have missed to detect his major talent: business development.

How did he get 50+ prominent and profitable cases?

Poirot shoved his nose into police business, into rich people’s lives. He read about them in newspapers, and listened to gossip at parties. Much like his  criminal foes, seeking opportunities to steal and get rid of people in their ways, Poirot was always developing his business.

Police said this old rich man killed himself? “Most certainly not” Poirot would suggest, and pursue murder suspects (heirs, or their lovers, usually).

Because the special thing about him is not the “little grey cells” but his eyes and ears. His perceptive look around while the work has not yet started. This is what brings home the lardon. The client is not even aware there is a detective in the room – but Poirot has already got some major clues about suspects. Because he gathers puzzle pieces before sitting at the table to play. Before anyone is looking for ANYTHING. Which is what Biz Dev pros do.

In her autobiography Christie describes her grandmother as a prophet of calamities: she would recognize disasters big and small weeks and even years before they happened. Eventually they always did happen as she had predicted. Christie was well aware that her grandma’s was not a sixth sense but rather a combination of attentiveness, bad past experiences and wisdom. I suspect Poirot had a lot of Agatha’s grandmother’s characteristics in him – not just in Miss Marple.

By the way, Mad Men’s Roger Sterling had probably been quite good at the same thing. He listened, looked carefully, from point Zero. He was gathering clues from the first seconds of meeting someone – anyone. Later on, he would sweep this lead off his feet – with an offer that pushes the right buttons. Little buttons Poirot recognized immediately, before the job had started.

The chit-chat, the drink, the food, the family pictures, the media clips, the stationary on the table, the way the shadow falls on the window curtains, the chair’s position. I wonder what would happen if Biz Dev pros would take criminal investigation training. Binge watching Poirot is a much more fun option – from my own personal experience.  

Feature image credit: Actor David Suchet Stars in the LWT series ‘Hercule Poirot’s Casebook’


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