Can you Develop an Internal Champion?


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Educating our customers we often believe is the path for sales success. We rely on that old Henry Ford saying, “‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses“, that puts us in the teacher position, a feeling of superiority and control. It leads us down that path of manipulation through that dastardly sales funnel.

In lieu of a sales and marketing funnel, I use the Outcome Based Mapping process where I categorized prospects/customers in an Expect to See, Like to See and Love to See phases. It is not a process of moving them along a funnel, but a process to develop shared understanding between the perspective buyer and seller. It is a process of developing shared meaning or educating each other. It is a slippery slope that we transverse because both parties must be willing to take turns being the teacher and the learner. Not one party has all the knowledge.

At the beginning of any engagement of this type, the relationship will be unbalanced as Edgar Schein states in his book Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help,

The number of things we don’t know at the beginning of a potential helping relationship is vast, but the information needed can be gathered very rapidly, even in the first few minutes, if we are conscious of the need and if we say or do the right things at the outset. I find that even in the simplest helping situations, such as being asked for directions; it is useful to take a moment to think about what I don’t know and what the client does not know. Once we understand these areas of ignorance; we can select the appropriate roles to deal with them.

I take this thinking a step further. I believe that we need to pause, reflect or re-calibrate often in the sales process to determine what role we should be playing at any given time. We may even trade roles during an actual conversation or meeting or in a larger frame before moving from one phase to another. There should be a recalibration, or that reflection to ensure that prior learning and mutual understanding have occurred. Before we pass that baton, it is imperative that we can not only link the next step in the process to what we have just shared, but be the basis for sharing in the next phase.

A more powerful message can be ascertained from what John Dewey said in his book How We Think:

The teacher says, “Do you remember what we learned from the book last week?”  Instead of saying “Do you not recall such and such a thing that you have seen or heard?” As a result, there are built up detached and independent systems of experience instead of reacting to enlarge and refine them. Pupils are taught to live in two separate worlds, one the world of out of school experience, the world of books and lessons. Then we stupidly wonder why what is studied in school counts so little outside.

In many sales engagements, we think of the 30 minutes we have spent with a prospect similar to what the pupil has learned in the book the week before, if we are lucky. Instead, we should attempt to build on the knowledge that has been supplemented with independent experiences. Our prospects have lived in two worlds, one the meeting with us where we may have been a teacher and another where they have engaged others where they have been the teacher. They may be ready to teach us what they have learned. Are we ready to listen?

In the sales process, we are always looking for that person to champion our cause. However, are we empowering people in our sales conversations to do that? Are we creating opportunity to resolve and clarify misconceptions versus bringing new information to the table? Is the new information we are trying to present relevant to the experiences that we just heard? Reflection, recalibrating, may cause us to go faster?

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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