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Inside the Sales Lab

Engaging early adopter customers through Design Thinking.


Ian H Smith

Our Sales Lab helps startups and challengers to win new business through engaging prospective customers in 'Mutual Value Discovery'. This is all about getting beyond abstract responses to Request For Proposal (RFP) documents, wherever you can.


Built on a 'Design Thinking' method and technology foundation, our approach is rooted in creating strong receptivity, rapport and trust among all key stakeholders on both the buyside and the sellside. Our methods and tools pay great attention to exploring and validating a clear 'Return On Investment (ROI Model' to defend value over price and counter 'Deal Slippage'.

Design Thinking Platform

We enable challengers to engage early adopter customers in a structured approach, combining an optimum mix of methods and tools to maximise receptivity, rapport and trust between all buyside and sellside stakeholders. This is where we deliver our cloud app - the Design Thinking Platform. This is a customisable solution built on Salesforce.

The five step Design Thinking method allows early adopters to engage with tech challengers, often well ahead of completeness of solution, and enables both the validation and part-funding of crucial stages in the evolution of product or service design.

As illustrated above, it is the 'Models' which matter most. This means 'Return On Investment ("ROI") Models', as described in the 'Mutual Value Discovery' section below.

Demand Creation Selling

'Demand Creation Selling' is designed for the high-value, high-touch sell. Let's define each of these directional phases of the buying and selling cycle. As the buyer and the seller move through the five iterative Design Thinking steps, progression is made through three stages of the buying and selling cycle: 'PiercePoint'; 'ProofPoint'; and, 'DecisionPoint'.

Creating a compelling message about the 'Value Proposition' that resonates with an empowered, but hard-to-reach decision-maker. This is simply a focus on effective lead generation from a cold start: make the Value Proposition stand out in words and pictures.

Having aroused the interest of an empowered decision-maker with a 'PiercePoint' message, the 'ProofPoint' becomes the validation of claims made. This is where Mutual Value Discovery and 'Interactive Decisioning Tools' (as extensions to the Design Thinking Platform) come into play.

When engaging a buyer in Mutual Value Discovery workshops, with meaningful Design Thinking Platform-based 'Interactive Decisioning Tools', the seller achieves sufficient rapport, receptivity and trust to understand the 'DecisionPoint'. This is the path, people and politics towards a timely win.

Mutual Value Discovery

Sellers have to defend value over price. Buyers are motivated by achieving measurable value outcomes through achieving more for less. As a Salesforce Registered Consulting Partner, our Sales Lab helps challengers to translate solution Value Proposition into tangible ROI Models, tailored in the Design Thinking Platform, that resonates with conservative, wary buyers.

Through tailoring the Design Thinking Platform instances, each 'ROI Model' for a particular solution is embedded into a 'Custom Object' (Module) within this Salesforce-based technology, enabling the calculated difference of Current State ('As-Is') versus Future State ('To-Be') attributed to the buyer making a timely investment in the solution in question for a Deal forecast.

The ROI Model is built for both a quantitative 'Economic Basis of Decision' and a qualitative 'Emotional Basis of Decision', where the balance between these two 'Scorecards' depends entirely upon the context of the solution being considered. Underpinning all of this is the ROI Model for the 'Cost of Delay' or the 'Cost of Doing Nothing', providing a vital counter-argument to deal slippage.

Reliable Sales Forecasting

The best way to cure the sales forecasting reliability problem is to simply shift the validation of Deal Value and Close Date from seller to buyer. This means enabling the buyer and seller to collaborate around a ROI Model for the Value Proposition in question and where the Design Thinking Platform instance for the buyer is extended with our enabling components.

The psychology of moving forecasting from seller to buyer further reinforces the timely justification for investing in the challenger's new product or service - as a truly compelling Value Proposition.

Sales Enablement = Sales Coaching

'Sales Enablement' is all about increasing the effectiveness of professionals engaged in the high-value, high-touch sell. Of course, a solid foundation of 'right message, right content, right tools - right time' is part of the key to success here.

But what makes this unique from inside our Sales Lab is 'Sales Coaching'. This means one of our experts offering 'outside-in' Coaching at every stage of the buying and selling cycle - personalised and made available incrementally, as 10-minute online sessions.

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