Sales J-Curve-ing

The latest pop-current affairs book ripe for plucking from duty free book shelves seems to be from American political analyst Ian Bremmer.  It plots the position of almost 70 nations on a J-Curve against scales of Stability v Openness.  One tenet of which, shows how a totalitarian regime may once be highly stable, yet as democracy takes hold, it inevitably feels turbulence, with things getting worse before they get better on the road to ‘freedoms’.

This theory strikes me as useful for anyone selling a change agent service/product, or selling to someone that is trying to change how their business does something.  What you can do is quote this concept, and select two variables (one for each axis of the graph) and plot how that change will impact operations.  And whatever you choose shall show how you can either minimise or shorten the inevitable ‘getting worse’ stage.

In terms of business change, you can link this theory to the much-vaunted Fosbury Effect touted by Total Quality Management gurus at the start of the 90s.  This was an example of how the world renowned high-jump athlete altered his approach from the traditional ‘scissors’ leap to new ‘flop’.  To start with his heights-cleared dipped, yet he perservered and eventually performance broke barriers.

Market/competitive pressure is a given requiring some form of reaction, so the key to distinguishing yourself from competition using this technique is in choosing relevant variables.  Anything eluding to commitment, time or money criteria is a decent start.  For instance, with companies I sell to, many want to alter the mindset of the reps from account managers to new business tigers, whilst changing their customer behaviour from once-off purchasers to frequent buying long-term retained clients.  You can plot against both these variables and show how to make the desired journey as smooth as possible.

One final point is that Geography scholars use J Curves to depict population changes.  At the top-right of it, change continues.  This can be useful to mention when your service/product can be used for a long-time, re-sold or added to at a later date.  Two outcomes can be discussed, again further differentiating yourself, namely at the top of the curve you plateau (making an S Curve) or you hit a brick wall and collapse. 

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