The Salesperson Serendipity Struggle

Travelling around Blighty I’d forgotten that the occasional rose can appear in the dung-filled field that sadly is the talk radio landscape.

Enter knowledge gained from Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage. (Precise episode mp3 download link).

The Sri Lankan fairytale princes from whom the wonderful word serendipity is coined surely knew there is “no linear route to knowledge”.

The number of breakthrough discoveries arrived at by mistake or chance – happy accident – are legion. Penicillin, microwave ovens, graphene, artificial sweetener, fingerprint detection, viagra.

I’m reminded of edgecraft and techniques like wrongthinking courtesy of James Dyson. Also Google Time. That 15% of your working life be dedicated to pursuing any creative ideas you like around the fringes or beyond away from your regular day-job. The current most vocal reincarnation of serendipitous promotion which has caught on across the globe. Spurred by F1’s McLaren, I also blogged touching on this topic back in 2013.

There’s a pair of points arising from this.

Firstly, where does innovation in Sales process come from?

I once had a chief exec snap at me for something new I tried with a client. As I explained my idea, his ego prevented him from accepting the reasoning. Revealing.

In general the capture and spread of best-practice is shocking.

Where once I promoted corporate-wide initiatives, now I realise they must start bottom-up, from one-to-one, with constant line manager reinforcement. Ouch.

Secondly, I’m constantly flummoxed that salespeople are excluded from product development.

I’ve always felt closer to the marketplace than anyone else when at the coalface. Product/features I know are essential get mysteriously sidelined due to the politics of my road-bound enforced office-absence. Disgraceful.

Then again, which CEO would allow their sellers to ‘skive’ off a couple of days a month?

Distraction always means less selling, right?

Yet many a quota-busting salesperson would love to be involved. Yes, there are the malcontents (…why haven’t you got rid of them?) and those that can only cope with a singular focus. But there is so much to be gained from all the different angles, cross fertilisation and weird mistakes that Sales resource utilisation here can bring.

Innovation for and from Sales can occur in many ways. I’m reminded of the GSK method where you could happily sit salespeople next to lab technicians rather than isolated in their own enclave to spark ingenuity.

I once asked account managers to actively keep a list of customer thoughts for design improvements. The kind of winning thinking where the thumbs-up/thumbs-down sites grew from. And in true 37signals fashion, many can be implemented with speed and high frequency.

Where’s the innovation promotion within your sales effort?

It will definitely help set you apart…

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