The Answer to the Challenger Customer: Schwerpunkt


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This weekend, I read the new book The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results, from the same group of people that brought you the books, The Effortless Experience. and The Challenger Sale. A short summary of the story is that it addresses the complications of selling to a committee and of course, the best way to approach doing this. The surprising discovery they found is that selling to each committee members needs is the wrong approach. You actually do more harm than good. This goes against most of our trainin, and the non-intuitive answer is you must create a consensus point within the committee, a sweet spot lets say and than develop internal champions to drive the point deeper within the organization.

This actual process reminded of a term that John Boyd (OODA LOOP) used to describe Toyota’s organizational practices, Schwerpunkt.

Schwerpunkt, Boyd wrote, “represents a unifying medium that provides a directed way to tie initiative of many subordinate actions with superior intent as a basis to diminish friction and compress time.” That is, employees decide and act locally, but they are guided by a keen understanding of the bigger picture. In effective organizations, schwerpunkt connects vibrant OODA loops that are operating concurrently at several levels. Workers close to the action stick to tactical loops, and their supervisors travel in operational loops, while leaders navigate much broader strategic and political loops. The loops inform each other: If everything is clicking, feedback from the tactical loops will guide decisions at higher loops and vice versa.

Wikipedia describes Schwerpunkt.

The Germans referred to a Schwerpunkt (focal point) and to a Schwerpunktprinzip (concentration principle) in the planning of operations. They viewed the Schwerpunkt as a center of gravity or point of maximum effort, where a decisive result could be achieved. Mechanised and tactical air forces were concentrated at this point of maximum effort regardless of the sacrifices it made necessary elsewhere. By local success at the Schwerpunkt, a small force could achieve a breakthrough and gain advantages.

Having a strong value proposition or a value statement may be the rallying cry needed. But, I think it is the wrong approach. It is internal thinking. I think the ability to gain the consensus on the customer value proposition and tying it our own initiative (a reverse value statement) is what will determine success. The strongest proposition ceases to be based on a problem-solution architecture. Instead, the value comes from the ability to classify situations or recognize patterns and adapt our offering accordingly. There seems to be more of an act of facilitation taking place versus selling which I addressed in the blog posts, Should you Quit Selling and Start Facilitating? and Is Your Sales Team Prepared to Sell to a Team?

Am I headed down the right path? Is the Value in the Conversation versus the Proposition?

CAP-Do (More Info): What makes CAP-Do so attractive is that it assumes we do not have the answers. It allows us to create a systematic way to address the problems (pain) or opportunities (gain) from the use of our products and services.

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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