Design-Based Innovation

Integrating Design for Success in Innovation

Design Thinking – The New Selling Skill

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by Guest Contributor, Uri Hess, Hess L&D Inc.

Ever wonder about the fact that we’ve more or less had the same selling skills training for the last 30 years? Oh sure, they’ve improved, especially with all the technical advances for teaching these skills. But, think about it: people are still trained to ask the right questions (open, closed benefit tags, etc.) to adapt discovered needs to the features and benefits of whatever they are selling. We are still reminded to listen and communicate effectively and, of course, to remember to ask for the order. We are so caught up in the demand to sell a particular solution that we fail to recognize the importance of focusing on the problem.

The newest selling skill being advocated takes into account Design Thinking (DT). This new focus encourages astute sales people to take more time for exploring. DT suggests that we need to increase the allotment of time to observe, network and question to reveal customer problems (not so much on needs at this early juncture). The customer may not even know or realize that there is a problem at hand. This form of effective interfacing is an important segment of Design-Based Innovation. It will reveal those opportunities for solving feasible, viable and desirable problems. Roger Martin, in his book, The Design of Business, advocates the importance of taking the time to search out those wicked problems that can reveal an entirely new and valuable direction. Roger states, “DT is a form of thought that enables movement along the knowledge funnel, and those that master it will gain a nearly inexhaustible long-term business advantage.”

Even if you believe that you are sitting on the advantages of a new wonder product, unique service or exciting new program that customers may want now, try stepping back. Stop and observe for problems that could interfere or could open the door to additional attributes that will provide a greater sustainability for your initiative. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have we exhausted every opportunity to scope out the problem(s)?
  • Have we taken the time to thoroughly prototype, test and assess our product, program or service?
  • How can these important steps for a complete innovation occur without understanding the problem first?
  • How many times have you said, “I wish I would have discovered this interfering issue before our launch?”

Incorporating DT interface practices into your selling skills program will provide the basis of newfound growth opportunities.

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