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November 2019

Sell Your Thinking Not Your Doing

Nov 14, 2019 3:00 PM
Bruce Hunter

To give credit where credit is due, I borrowed this from an excellent book by David C. Baker which focuses on and is titled, “The Business of Expertise”. While written primarily for those in the service business, his thoughts apply to virtually all businesses.

Focusing on execution rather than strategy invites challenges.

1. Implementation-only focus invites demon customers who put their emphasis on price and is usually lower margin business.

Implementation is more easily copied, inviting more competition.

Financial risk may be more heavily concentrated in execution. (HR & working capital requirements are higher).

4. Deadline pressure can be more concentrated. Often, drop dead dates are problematic because of client-initiated changes or lack of adherence to process.

5. Winning financially in implementation requires high efficiency and low cost – a difficult model in perpetuity.

Baker’s advice to focus on selling strategy mirrors my own research conducted for a Fortune 100 firm. The research was designed to help the firm understand what their clients valued most from a customer relationship. I completed approximately 30 C-level interviews which provided a very consistent response. The answer was simple. The greater the number of ideas brought forward to consider in service of their business, the more they valued my client. The currency they most respected and rewarded was ideas. Execution, while important, was not a differentiator for them. It was table stakes.

idea of selling your thinking, not your doing has broad implications for your company’s brand and how to position yourself through all of your out-bound marketing elements. As homework, review your Web Site, Social Media content and the other customer touchpoints including employee communication. Do they focus on thinking or doing? Baker describes the customer touchpoint as a two roomed home with one entry point. door through which your customer should pass is the thinking/strategy door. y will see your excellence in execution once into the house but you will have elevated your offering by starting the conversation in a higher place.


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