Ideas for a Sales “Game Changer”

The pendulum always swings.

The marketplace creates chaotic attractors; whether it is through constant tension between consumer and vendor, between commodity and complexity, centralisation or decentralisation or just plain human indecision.


Chaotic Double Pendulum

“Mastering The Complex Sale” is not a book for anyone supplying an item as a commodity, it talks of the chasm between the value driven complex sale and the simpler process of self service. Whether the “swing” attracts us to the commodity in the cloud, or a complex enterprise architecture it is “value” that drives us. The attractor of Cloud/SaaS serves to provide simplicity as it’s commodity.

Contemplating these thoughts while on a break in Bali (where a dress comes in “one size fits all”) invokes one to examine the bridge from commodity to true value. In Bali making it all work comes by way of jewelry: “Accessory Partnership Innovations” or API’s… not much different really.

But I digress. Building a “Diagnostic Business Development” framework is critical, making one that remains impervious to the foibles of the market pendulum is essential, and beyond the scope of “Mastering the Complex Sale”.

The book convincingly advises on avoiding the danger of promoting customer-self-diagnosis through an “Era 2” sales process suggesting that commoditisation reduces everything to price. This is in stark contrast to “Era 3” value creation (which benefits both customer and vendor).

Star Fort

Looking at what we do  I can see alignment with the philosophy, and an intuitive alignment to attaining a mastery of the complex sale. Reading the epilogue of the book I get to “Choose a Side”. But that’s where I hesitate and consider bastions against market tides.

What if a product was able to reach both those seeking a commodity as well as those seeking further complex value propositions? How would this work? Choosing a side is not as simple as segmenting a company, this creates silos (itself against the grain of the book). What is needed is a way to “have our cake and eat it too”.

The Game Changer

In part the “commodity” problem is fueled by:

  • Complex procurement processes that pay lip service to the philosophy of “value for money”;
  • Commodity products that fuel this procurement process;
  • Business silos that try to work around the system through tendering with specifications that have been fed to them by commodity vendors.

Sales and Procurement has become a game. Once you accept this then it is simply a question of how to stay ahead of the game?

Game Changer

So, this series of blogs has the sole purpose of exploring the next move after the “Mastering of the Complex Sale”. It is also about the practical implementation of Diagnostic Business Development within the sales and peripheral support structures. While calling it an “Era 4 Holistic Sales” process may be pretentious and premature (as it may only be relevant to certain industries), it is certainly relevant to the strategy being played out at Amristar, and the delivery of market relevant geospatial software solutions.

The next move?

The next move is really quite simple, but it has some fundamental requirements that must be true before the move can be played:

Chess moves

  • The organisation must have some appreciation of the complex sale
  • The organisation must have a product which can be projected as a commodity (with value)
  • The organisation must be able to articulate the bridge from a commodity product to creating further value (which is complex).

In other words to attain “Era 4”


Must aspire:

  1. To transcended Era 3 mastery of the complex sale
  2.  To have understood Era 1
  3. … and Era 2

    Spiral dynamics image

    Transcending through Spiral dynamics

A fabulous read on this topic across human development is spiral dynamics and integral theory.

Sales must also understand that the commodity offering is a tributary to the complex sale and Diagnostic Business Development process. It doesn’t make the job easier. just different

The organisation

Has likely self diagnosed a need to reduce the barrier to entry (technically, politically and commercially). It must be truly invested in it.

Attaining this practically?

Is the organisation shipshape? Is Value integrated into the company?

There are still many aspects of the organisation that need to be carefully and strategically aligned in avoiding “Value Leakage”. For successful Diagnostic Business Development this leakage must be minimised in the chain of supply (through to Sales and beyond).

Thull mentions these as:

  • Research and Development
  • Marketing
  • Pre-Sale Technical Support
  • Post Sale support
  • Human  Resources
  • Procurement

Obviously this needs comprehensive buy-in and spans across more than simply the Sales business unit.

There are systems such as the Hoshin Kanri management model, that through a hierarchy of Kanban boards can maintain focus on “the customer as the focal point of all activity”.

Alignment attained at the management levels need to percolate down through to execution:

This needs sales feedback on what the customers perceive of as value, and then monitoring its delivery across the whole chain. But a entrepreneurial  business needs more than that; it needs to try, fail fast, learn and move on.

Thull’s Complex sale is aspirational. If the product is complex from inception to realisation Thull’s mastery of the complex sale must be applied, primarily through education: Self education as to the customers problem; and then customer education as to the delivery of a valuable solution.

Commoditisation – it’s not such a dirty word

So what if you could commoditise the educational process into the product. It isn’t only conceivable in the software environment through SaaS but it is already being done!

This allows potential customers to realise the value for themselves. Done properly it allows the Business Development Manager to assist the customer in engaging at the level they need. This will be somewhere between simple pedagogy and the deep-end. The BDM becomes a teacher. The steps: Discover, Diagnose, Design & Deliver don’t change materially, only in substance.

The notion that “there is no such thing as a solution without a quantifiable problem that clarifies customer value” merely needs the organisation to work towards the bricks and mortar of solutions.

Commoditisation is thus reinvented as “sophistication  made readily and easily available”

And then comes the detail…

Other business units are likely to have different requirements and therefore different tools. A CRM is a typical example of where Sales will need a different tool and other areas such as Marketing, HR, Procurement, and even pre-post sale support may require a different suite for their function to be successful.

In all of this there are two facets of the business that will be key to the sustained delivery of Diagnostic Business Development: Training and Operations, the latter an overarching business unit not mentioned in Thull.

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