“the majority of British patented inventions are developed within 35 miles of Birmingham”
This fact, as stated by Paul Hartnack, chief exec of UK Patent Office, made me feel proud for the city of my upbringing. Apparently this is from the year 2000, where 2800 of the 4000 registrations were so born.
I came across this recently around the same time I was reading musings from Jason Fried. He recommends that the strive for innovation is better replaced by thinking rather on usefulness.
This smuffled audio gets across his theme here. In the context of talking about how people develop and pitch apps (and that a great app is one people grow into use of), he riffs;
“You want to focus on what’s useful.
Innovation is highly overrated.
Usefulness is what’s important.
Build the most useful thing you can.
And that in itself may be innovative.
But don’t set out your stall to be innovative, set out your stall to be useful.”
This meme is nothing new of course. For since I first studied innovation at Uni myself, the distinction between innovation for the sake of it (bad) and that which truly seeks progress (good) is plain to read. I even recall a lesson on it on a sixth form course. Aged seventeen, my class had 40 minutes once discussing product innovation versus market innovation. Specifically examining why the latter hugely outstrips the former. Yet it’s always nice to hear it reinforced wearing its latest wardrobe.
Taking usefulness into the Sales furnace, the obvious parallel is with what you provide your prospects. What is most useful to them? Leave-behinds, documents given, forums run, information shared, preparation support. There’s a raft of areas which could be tweaked and made more ‘useful’ to them (and by default, you).
I’ve long lived by the fact that each meeting must generate at least two pieces of collateral. One confirms, beforehand, what ought be achieved, the other after, with what was agreed. Innovation around these is usually reaping from most fertile ground. After all, how many sales people do you know that don’t even have this kind of effort as part of their personal sales process?
Another fruitful source of sales innovation comes from the meme of ‘remix’. This predominantly concerns itself with trying to remove patent thinking and the absurdity of filling lawyers’ pockets through intellectual property battles. Instead they feel that all ideas should be ‘free’ as truly great progress comes from them their ‘remix’ by whoever.
A couple of times for instance, I’ve had to fend off a corporate marketing department go crazy at how I’ve ‘remixed’ their precious brand idents. Stubborn ‘the template is not for changing’ style-thinking is so backward.
In the same way that a good song can be enhanced by swapping in a different groove, adding a guitar solo or new vocal refrain, many a piece of sales work done either previously by you or that a colleague may deploy, may be ripe for a winning remix.
So, whether you plough your own furrow in isolation, or toil inside a large team, one way to improve what you do already – and potentially impress prospects and managers alike – is to take time out and consider either the usefulness drive or remix treatment on all aspects of the sales (and buying) process.
And returning to the initial fact from the top of my post here, if you think for a moment, it could well be the case that there is an obvious source of frequent innovation in your arena. Can you identify it, (he, or she), and get within “35 miles” of it? As once in its orbit, the rocketed results will hopefully flow.