A Swarm Buying Process?

I recently read a review of a management book, apparently one more along a trend of left-field provocateurs trying to get managers to think differently. This particular tome, called Smart Swarm, tries to build parallels between instinctive collective animal behaviour to decision making and that which should be employed in business.

One of the very first pieces of solution selling techniques I picked up was about how to unravel both the decision making process and criteria that lies ahead during your initial meeting with a prospect.

Every successful, repeatable solution sales process includes these very pair of tasks within its core.

Even for the inexperienced, a simple query along the lines of “so, how are you guys going to make up your mind on all this?” can kick start a fruitful discussion.

What tickled me about the review in question, was how you can progress into real political insight almost undetected by using their biological references.

Although there are the odd exceptions, blunt questions revolving around politics or decision making intimacy are likely to endure equally blunt, and unrevealing, answers.

Yet removing the heat from a prospective Board meeting agenda point by using the analogy of bees – sent out to find new dwellings and returning for their dance-off – may I fancy be slightly disarming. Indeed, the “discover, test, evaluate” mantra of “swarm theory” could be a cute way of investigating imminent corporate decision patterns.

Here’s a couple of further entertaining concepts as mentioned in the author’s original 10-page article referenced above:

bees’ rules for decision-making—seek a diversity of options, encourage a free competition among ideas, and use an effective mechanism to narrow choices …

identify all the possibilities, kick their ideas around for a while, then vote by secret ballot

and

most important, control of the group could be decentralized, not dependent on a leader.

“In biology, if you look at groups with large numbers, there are very few examples where you have a central agent”

A useful addition to your techniques that get to the heart of the matter that can also “amplify faint signals and speed up decision making“.

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