Winning million dollar deal in IT sector is getting challenging as competition gets stiffer and customer becomes choosier. Traditional mechanism of responding to RFX has become more Templatized, it is neither standing out for vendors nor Wow-ing for Customers. Having spent past years in Business Development roles (Pre-Sales), I have also adopted more proactive measures to approach customers with Proactive Proposals to sell our products and services. Even in this, we have mostly focused on “What We Have” in terms of products & services and “How Do We Pitch” them to customers. Both approaches, Reactive & Proactive, have surely given us great successes in winning many large deals. But I have always felt, we could have done better job of finding Real problem zone of customer and pitching it right into that Zone. Retrospectively, I feel, issue was not about approach but mindset. Instead of thinking into customer business challenges and opportunities, we focused on fixing our offerings into our perceived customer context.
In business development, we all are too familiar with strategies of Account Hunting, Mining and Farming, etc. Now, there is new term on horizon, called, Account Nurturing. Account Nurturing is about creating newer opportunities, unearthing hidden problems and discovering unstated needs by Design Thinking approach, which put emphasis on listening, user empathy, whole-brain thinking, collaboration, and experimentation. Design Thinking methodology can enable our front line sales and pre-sales consultants to acquire greater new skills in problem-finding, in analytical decision making, and in being creative, and innovative, in a whole new and exciting way.
Since completion of Design Thinking Certification program on Coursera, I have attempted to apply it in most of my dealings. Here, I share my Applied Design Thinking approach for Winning B2B deals by Developing real Requirements from customers.
It is neither about “Building Things Right” nor “Building Right Things”, but both “Building Right Thing Right..”!!!.
“Design Thinking” has been around for sometime but it has started trending up since Mr. Sikka started to talk about next generation of growth engine for Infosys. But well before, SAP has been offering their Innovation Management Framework around Design Thinking methodology.
I have been passionate about this since completion of my Design Thinking Certification in 2013 and have been practicing in most of my professional aspects.
Here, I have put together a short presentation to share my approach to apply Design Thinking into Project Management.
“How can you Control the future, you cant predict?” That was the question, Professor Sarasvathy at IIMB 4Startup has attempted to answer through her extensive research on Expert Entrepreneurship. She said, any start-up venture needs to deal with a fear of uncontrollable and unpredictable future. But good news is there is an approach to reverse this fear into cheer. She further explains, usually, most of us at grown-up stage are wired to think rationally based on learnings and experiences. This approach could be called Causality which is based on relationship of events. But there is another approach which is not based on analysis and wisdom but based on feeling the pulse of action at the edge. This second approach, Effectuality, is based on taking smaller and calculative steps forward by sensing and learning along the way to success.
To explain further, most business situation demands exerting utmost Control for desired future outcome by conducting extensive research to make it Predictable success. But we rarely get balanced weight of both in any situation. If both are low, we tends to Adopt to situation and try to conduct more research to increase Predictability. If we get better Predictability, we tends to Plan and try to increase Control bit for situation. If we gets lucky with increased Control and Predictability, we need to Persist on current strategy. But when disruption is in air, Predictability goes down in markets. This is where Blue Ocean gets created where Corp avoids sailing into, but Entrepreneurs come-in for fishing using co-creation strategy. But surprisingly, in these Blue Oceans, it has been observed that, Expert Entrepreneurs hate three types of fishes; Business Planners, Market Researchers and Venture Capitalists.
To make more sense and address the curious “How” question around it, she defines a five principals approach in her research.
- Bird-in-Hand Principal
- Instead of defining goals and working on its means, It is better to know your means which are your current and immediate capability and capacity.
- Affordable-Loss Principal
- Instead of estimating ROI and assessing associated Risk, it is better to estimate the investment which might not bit if lost. It is more like “Risk little and fail cheap”.
- Crazy-Quilt Principal
- Instead on focusing on competitors, it is better to focus of building alliances/stakeholders who are committed to venture.
- Lemonade Principal
- Instead of worrying about unexpected outcomes, it is better to be ready to convert any adversaries into advantage to create new market and product features.
- Pilot-in-the-Plane Principal
- Instead of relying on inevitable trends established by market forces, it is better to roll out pilot and work on create trends.
I feel, this theory is not just applicable for Startup but anyone even in the Job. In our offices, sometime, we have to take risky and newer assignments, where we dont have liberty of research for future predictability.
Just read couple of stories in “Stay Hungry and Stay Foolish” book. It is a fantastic book and I would recommend. Here is my crack on it.
According to book, there are four major aspects to any successful venture. First is financial where individual has to deal with its Security and Support. Second is Focus which is that individual’s desire to Do It and his/her capability to perform. Third is ability to Ideate a solution with future vision. And last is social ecosystem to support and complement the effort.