“If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution”. Albert Einstein
If Einstein is right the sequence is to understand, diagnose, and then act. Yet for sales and marketing in the twenty-first century, we act first. We talk about our company, products, people and then go for the order. We do this before we understand, before based on the understanding how we can consider ways our products or services provide value for the buyer and before we have clarified and solidified what it would be like to work with the customer, so everyone receives their value.
The good news in business is we normally won’t have our world end and while our failure to succeed can be tragic for us and our team, it is not likely to bring everyone else down with us.
Additionally, we get to see our problems coming. The market provides Revenue Science™ professionals with measurable outcomes that predict what is going to happen.
So, what are the best ways to put Einstein’s understand, diagnose, and act to work for our growth in sales and profits?
The first application is strategic and the second is tactical. Business schools, authors, and leading publications have presented SWOT, Innovation, Operational Excellence and getting those right people on the bus as strategic examples driving action. These are supported by consultants, gurus, and others who help build strategy. The result is there are as many types of competitive strategies as there are books in the library.
The issue with all those schools, people, theories, and approaches is almost all start at the wrong end of Einstein’s story. They start with your goals, your products, your investments, and your brand. All these things are the result of action. You have taken the action and are where you are before you understand, diagnose or talk to a customer.
For about a hundred years starting with action seemed to work. Companies took action and buyers showed up with money because the twentieth-century was a century of bubbles and at various times the market filled with a frenzied demand for anything that “might” be valuable. Over the last century, the bubbles included indoor plumbing, radios, TVs, toasters, cars, homes, computers, smartphones and other products or services at all price levels.
After the Internet and Google, the market is no longer naive and willing to buy anything at inflated prices. The world became transparent, buyers have choices, quality has a market definition (one to five stars) and finally a new breed of sellers showed up focused on understanding the buyer, partnering with the buyer to diagnosis the best possible option before taking the action and “that” creates great value for both the seller and the buyer.
It does look like Einstein saves the strategic side of the world. So, what about the tactical side?
Does Einstein’s understand, diagnose, and then act offer anything that supports the strategy when deployed in the street? The street is where robo calls interrupt dinner, where the Solar Sales Person insults your intelligence with false promises, dangerous contracts, and fake science. The street is where in B2B relationships the seller is pitching, promising, telling the buyer what is good for them, presenting a firm price followed by a discount, and doing whatever it takes to make money from those buyers in the seller’s territory.
Again, the Internet with transparency has given the buyer control over who they believe will talk with them, explore options, and then be labeled by the buyer as either a vendor or partner.
The buyer has visibility to what sellers say vs. what they do. The buyer gets to compare promises from results. The buyer can use LinkedIn and the web to learn about the seller’s leadership skills, history, and trustworthiness.
Buyers will research those who appear to be able to support the buyer’s needs before the seller even knows the buyer exists. Often the seller is disqualified without ever meeting the buyer or after one meeting and the buyer’s follow-up research.
Sellers in this digital world need to understand buyer niches with specific problems at the earliest possible stage. Then using content (all types) to communicate with this niche who is already trying to understand their problem, options and choices to achieve the buyer’s goal, so the seller can start or continue a value-based conversation. The seller and the buyer should use a triage process to be sure that the problem, the product, and the business engagement model are aligned to solve the buyer’s problem.
When that level of understanding exists, the combination of the buyer’s problem and the seller’s offer can be aligned for the true business value to both parties. When this happens, the action is like great music it just flows, and everyone is delighted. Like great music, this relationship will have a long run.
To no one’s surprise, Einstein is right again. Neuroscience tells us the sequence is not action before understanding and diagnosing. Let’s get over the twentieth-century bubble myths around action that at best makes money from your buyers. Instead start by understanding, diagnosing, and acting to make money with your buyers for the long-term benefit of all.