When the WHY is Important Enough
the What (Solution) is Secondary
To varying degrees all sales people represent risk and fear to customers; the inconvenience and burden of change. A lot of customers initially will send positive signals of interest, and then reality sets in that they will have to not only make changes with the proposed solution, but above and beyond that they will have to make difficult changes that will be felt elsewhere in the organization.
No matter how beneficial your solution is, it is an intrusion. How you manage outwardly these change considerations will greatly determine your fate. Conventional sales people throw caution to the wind and leave it to fate, and hope customers internally navigate the process, connecting all the dots, reconciling the pros and cons of change, reprioritizing their initiatives and managing conflicting office politics. This is very risky business to leave all in the hands of customers.
The change-agent, being non-partisan and unemotionally tied to outcomes, has no problem taking customers through this minefield in their pursuit of the truth and what best serves their customers.
Change-centered sales people rigorously throw away assumptions of what customers want and how they can help. They know all too well the danger and the potential that no good deed goes unpunished when they are too proactive in a dubious attempt to provide unsolicited or unwelcomed advice and solutions.
From the change-agent's perspective all action is positive. Because they are outcome neutral, all action represents progress. Good news represents a sale. Bad news early represents a lost opportunity where time, resources and effort were at a manageable level.
The change-agent is willing to examine every angle, leave no stones unturned, examine all possible options because they are not burdened like traditional sales people who have lots of conflicts of interest or contradictory motives. The down strokes are more than compensated by increasing flow of confidential information, trust, respect and deep insight.
Because a change-agent is first and foremost a business person and advisor, they do not fear hearing the truth. They give customers a wide berth to autonomously draw their own conclusions and find their own answers. They empower customers and respect their independence to make good decisions because they truly have the inside track on their own priorities.
The change-agent deals primarily in perceptions, because for customers perception is reality, or as Kant said "we see things not as they are, but as we are." To deal with customers with an even hand you have to be grounded, composed, and genuinely curious.
Orthodox sales people have a very limited grasp of reality. The only reality they focus on is their ability to provide a superior solution. Unfortunately, this is at the detriment of understanding the customer's unique reality of the cost of change. Because of this sales people do not represent critical thinking and certainly are not viewed as the voice of reason.
Customers and traditional sales people live in their own realities. Neither is willing to bridge the gap. That is why there is lots of mistrust, misinformation and limited flow of important information. As Gen. George S. Patton said, "If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody is not thinking."