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In this edition, you’ll be able to understand the power of design thinking to position a maturity model and accelerate enterprise transformation deals.
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How To Close A Transformation Deal With a New Logo In Less Than 9 Months
Help your prospects to think big, but act small
In the last edition, I introduced the power of using a maturity model to better position transformation deals in your industry. This model is intended to be used over multiple meetings and design sessions across the 3 main stages of closing a deal – Discovery, Insight, and Accelerate.
Now let’s break it down further…
Key component #1: Create a distinct point of view for your industry (Discovery Stage)
Where you start the conversation matters.
Most sellers fail to articulate a broad vision for the industry they work in. Instead, they lock themselves in a small box that is easy for a prospect to view their solution as a commodity. That is a transaction, not a transformation.
Here’s a specific example in the Business-to-Business-to-Consumer CX space…
(1) Transaction: “We are a messaging company that makes it easier for large brands to communicate with their customers at scale.”
(2) Transformation: “Telcos in North America that reported a positive earnings call last quarter have stopped outsourcing their contact centers offshore and are now bringing their talent onshore for half the cost while improving the customer experience. They’ve reported 12 straight quarters of higher profits, and one went from worst in customer service to first in the industry in 3 years. The key was using a tight integration of backend systems and intelligent AI.”
See the difference?
In the first position, besides the sales 101 mistake of it being vague and leading with you, the audience is not all that interested and the only conversation to have (if you do manage to progress) is talking about features and cost. Good luck with that!
In the second position however, you elevate the conversation up to what’s happening very specifically in the industry for a small subset of the best-performing companies (known as being a performance curator). As a performance curator, you use customer facts and stories to paint a clear picture and generate authentic curiosity (the sophistication of your language will depend on your audience).
Any team or executive focused on high performance, especially in today’s tough inflationary environment, would be willing to learn how they can think and operate differently.
At the Discovery Stage, you want to hear these things (beacons indicating you’re making breakthrough impact):
- “Interesting, tell me more.”
- “How are they doing that?”
- “We never thought about it like that.”
Key component #2: Actively collaborate with the prospect on how to change (Insight Stage)
Next, you have to bring the need to change closer to their turf.
After gathering and receiving the prospect’s data, now will be the time when you bring together their change drivers and your subject matter experts (SMEs). I found the best way to do this is set up a design session, or a Lighthouse Workshop. Here are the key components of a good workshop:
- If it’s safe to travel, host it offsite near their office (to limit their in-office distractions)
- Space to move around freely
- Position the seating in a circle, so connection and collaboration is encouraged
- A large whiteboard and/or flip chart
- A video screen (make sure any remote participants are welcomed, visible, and able to engage)
- A minimum of 3 hours
- Provide meals, snacks, and beverages
- Your team: You, an executive sponsor, SMEs (product, technical, and operations)
- Their team: Mobilizer, executive sponsor, reciprocal SMEs (same categories as you)
The goal of the session is to suspend limiting beliefs. After a brief opening, setting the agenda, and stating the intended outcome, leave the maturity model displayed on the video screen while you move back to the circle and use the whiteboard.
If you need to run a 100% virtual session, you can still do it effectively, but you need to level up your tools to keep engagement high. Start with using mmhmm for video. Then use a collaboration design tool, like these, so it’s easy for folks to provide their input. Lastly, shorten the sessions with specific outcomes and host them over a few days. Having a current customer speak at one of the sessions is a nice touch. Here are some more good ideas.
Collaborate on designing the ideal experience(s) together. The prospect shares, you share, and the outcome should be a well designed plan that can be acted on and budget can begin to be pursued.
At the Insight Stage, you want to hear things like:
- “We would have to…”
- “Can we also…”
- “What if we…”
Key component #3: Drive home why the prospect needs to change now (Accelerate Stage)
We often think of ourselves as closers, but in reality, we’re change agents. (From the book Naked Sales: How Design Thinking Reveals Customer Motives and Drives Revenue)
After completing a successful design session together where you architected the ideal way to operate, develop a narrative proposal and business case to secure (or create) budget.
Make sure both executive sponsors (yours and theirs) sign off on it before it gets positioned inside their org. Both sides should have their hands on the proposal, ensuring it includes their specific terminology, initiatives, and realistic KPIs.
Because it’s a narrative document (I have found the PRFAQ as a compelling format to create a narrative proposal even though it’s designed for Product teams), it will read easily on its own when shared across the org. For a transformation level deal, the executive sponsor should be SVP level or higher.
Lastly, before getting into the procurement stage, providing optionality (3 choices) will increase your win rate according to extensive research by Dan Ariely (I can attest to this with a career closing ratio of 78% in the strategic enterprise space).
At the Accelerate Stage, you want to hear things like:
- “How long will it take to roll this out?”
- “What have other organizations done?”
- “Who do we need on our end to make sure this is successful?”
In the next edition, I’ll break down how to incorporate an effective personal system for high performance and reducing emotional fatigue by using a simple mental model. Critical as we enter the 2nd half of the year!
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