The power is in the difference
The power is in the difference, the “in-between”. I encourage everybody to look more at what is “between things” as opposed to the things themselves. What I mean by that is that we traditionally look at departments, at products, at people, at customers and we very rarely look at what happens between them explicitly. What happens between departments? What happens between the salesperson and the customer? What happens between different customers?
Looking at the “in-between” enables you to see things that others are not able to see. Let me give you an example: A solution is when two things are brought into resonance with each other. On the one side you have the company offering that consists of hardware, software, services, etc. And on the other side, you have the customer need. Some kind of an improvement, taking costs out of the system, whatever it might be. If these two things come into resonance with each other, that is when a solution is created. In other words: it is the space between a company’s offering and the customer’s need where the solution is created.
When you have that model, you can now start having conversations about how your sale is evolving over time. For example, one of the things that is probably changing is that customers understand less and less of the problem they are trying to solve. A decade ago they wanted a specific product with certain features, today they want some kind of efficiency improvement (whatever that is…). To bring a very fuzzy customer need into resonance with an increasingly complicated product offering is very different from what sales and the field organization did to be successful twenty years ago. Back then, you might have just put a product on the table, you talked a bit about battery life and the durability and you have already put the customer need and the offering in resonance with each other.
Another example is new hires – very different example, but the exact same principle. I hear from many of my customers: “Oh, it takes years to learn this. What we are doing is so complicated. ” I don´t believe it. I believe it if you put the new hire in a seat in a training class or simply in front of computer based training. Rather, take a close look at what happens between that new hire and a customer or a number of customers. What happens between the new hire and a couple of his/her colleagues. If you can pull that new hire into an engaging peer-to-peer relationship or a deal where they have to sweat in order to keep up with customer demands, they are going to get up to speed much, much faster.
These are two completely unrelated and very different examples. The point I want to make is the following: try to look at what happens between things. It gives you a completely new way to think about business and where the performance really is!