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Innovate Your Business

Color Magazine - November 2009

By Marvin L. Smith

Creative Practices To Give You the Edge

When your best efforts to grow the business are not yielding desired results, it may be time to reframe how you see the world. When your insights about your prospects and customers seem thin and the competition appears robust and privileged, how can you give yourself and your organization a decided advantage?

Be in the Moment. Being present, responsive and tuned in is critical for establishing rapport. This rapport will help you to move around in the conversation and share control of the meeting with your prospect.

Make Meaning. Make connections, which may not make immediate sense, from what you see happening. This takes skill at cracking the code and reading between the lines. Strategies include, questioning (which is a linear function and the fundamental component of collecting information), thinking and learning. Get curious; ask permission to ask questions that give you a foundation to build an effective proposal and help you understand beyond the obvious facts and needs. Guessing is a different, more right-brained strategy for code cracking that does not yield immediate right answers. This strategy, however, can help you bump into unexpected outcomes as you interact with your prospect. This kind of thinking can achieve unique and powerful ideas.

Send a compelling message. Make offers that are irresistible to your prospects. 

This entails knowing their business and needs in ways that they haven't thought about before. Surprise them with what you know. Make the potential organization your hobby. Liken it to an operation where you want your physician to collect surgical data, paying attention to the minute particulars. Small changes and subtleties can make a quantum difference.

Listen to prospects until they have said something new to you! You increase your effectiveness if you are at the intersection where new connections are made by your prospects. If they are thinking in a new way while in your presence, you will be there at the origin of the thought and ahead of the competition.

Find out why you did not get the business. Follow up as a regular practice. Find out what you did well and what you didn't do well. Become a faster learner, so that today's failure can be the front-runner for tomorrow's success. Develop a list of buyer preferences and use a compiled list as a platform to build specific components of your program. End the bias against yourself. With your minds eye, see yourself being successful. Purposely create a win-win situation for you and your buyer. See this successful image in such vivid detail that you can touch it, feel it, tell a story about it. In the movie of your mind, show up as the leading character.

Value partnerships. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Many ideas grow better when they are transplanted in a mind other than in the one where they sprang up." Find a thinking partner. Form a strategic alliance and get synergy going with someone who is of a different mind or who has different skills than yours. "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it's the only one you have" - Emile Chartier.

Use Consultative Selling. After generous listening and establishing rapport (like an examining physician), ask the prospect for permission to probe specific areas in order to help them get the maximum benefit from your offerings. Proceed gently when asking for critical information:- Are there others bidding for the work?

  • Have you established a budget, pricing boundaries, delivery requirements, etc.?
  • Who are the decision makers?
  • How many chances will I have to get this right? Work on getting more than one chance at the plate; this allows for problem solving and shows versatility and stamina. Then take some personal risks:- Is there anything I have not asked that you think is important?
  • I will be working personally on this one.
  • I have a pay-for-performance option if you are interested.
  • What are the conditions to be your vendor of choice?
  • What long-range/larger possibilities are you thinking about?

Now that you've read another article, what will be different about how you act tomorrow? In baseball, the .300 hitters take batting practice everyday. What practice do you give yourself on a daily basis?

 For more information contact Marvin Smith at Deliberate Synergy,

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