Concerned about being an “inch deep” when you bring thought leadership?
The fear of being “found out” that you are only an inch deep on your thought leadership when selling makes the idea of calling on someone unappealing. So, calling on new doors gets delayed, and eventually, you see your demand creation pipeline is weak. You just have not stirred things up in a while.
Worrying about sharing thought leadership is real. So, would you be excited to know you are thinking about this all wrong? While you have been led to believe your value is being the KNOWER, the true differentiator is being the THINKER.
Three reasons why you do not want to position yourself as the KNOWER:
- Everyone is using “VUCA” to describe the business environment: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous. Is there any word in this acronym that says KNOWING is still a reasonable expectation or even trusted? No.
- When you show up as a KNOWER of thought leadership, the prospect automatically moves into LISTENER and CRITIC mode. Is that the start of a great sales meeting? No.
- Vast amounts of Information are available to your prospects today. They now show up KNOWING and simply want to “kick the tires” …NOT learn about the tires. They already KNOW.
Why you want to be the THINKER instead:
It is all about differentiation and relationships. Remember that hurried moment before a call and googling “top manufacturing trends?”
I googled it just now and got “233,000,000 results.” Do I really care about clicking on 233 million results? Have YOU ever personally even seen page two? And yes, while we benefit from the professional researcher’s analytics, it does not differentiate us from our competitors. Why? Because my competitor just googled the same thing… proposing the same conversation (yawn).
Here is one thing a competitor cannot copy which is the unique conversation you and your prospect have that is fueled by your curiosity and unique point of view.
In this conversation, you and your prospect discover new angles and thoughts, and that cannot be googled by your competitor. Bottom line – your thought leadership must not end with a period but provoke intriguing question marks.
Where did critical thinking in business go?
Stressed schedules replaced time to think. Internet-ready answers and analytics replaced critical thinking. Relying on intuition has replaced thinking. Google search terms have replaced thinking. Quite frankly, it is easier to outsource thinking to the professionals! Do you see yourself in any of these situations? These are all reasonable short cuts at times, but it costs us our differentiation as sales professionals.
How do we easily bring it back?
It is not as hard as you think to shift from KNOWING to CRITICAL THINKING. Here are the steps:
- Continue gathering THOUGHT LEADERSHIP. Yes, google. Yes, analytics. Yes, intuition. Yes, SMEs, researchers, and industry experts. Just remember, these are raw materials, not your final destination. Instead of considering it DONE at this point, consider it the START of a really great conversation.
- Now, consider this thought leadership from MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES. Take the perspective of executives, operations, users, competitors, key customers, technology, etc. This multifaceted perspective-taking guarantees you will not be caught being an “inch deep.” This is critical thinking in business. Explore the topic and develop your POINT OF VIEW (POV). Test it in multiple safe conversations.
- Now INVITE your prospect into this conversation and do critical thinking WITH them. How? Bring your POV, take a risk and make an assertion. Do not shy away from triggering a reaction to your POV. Emotion creates memory in the brain and is the foundation of a rich, honest, caring, truth-telling relationship. Invite their thinking on your POV then consider multiple perspectives together. Critical thinkers do not play it safe. Ego steps aside for passionate curiosity. This exchange creates energy and emotion – not a dispassionate, dump of analytics called thought leadership. Make your thought leadership a verb, not a noun. Show them what it is like to have access to you.
Critical thinking in business is fueled with:
- What if…
- What is the opposing side…
- Why would this matter to…
- Who would benefit from…
- Who is affected by…
- What are they thinking, feeling, or doing about this?
- How could this be different…
This is just regular ol’ curiosity.
As one of our Revenue Storm coaches, Ray, is known for saying… “dig deeper” together. And now, you have differentiated yourself through your thinking and POV, rather than your product or company.
What is the payoff of showing up as a THINKER instead of a KNOWER?
- Relationship: Doing critical thinking together is not for you to be RIGHT… but for you to enjoy a collaborative conversation and an exchange of opinions that forms the basis of a rich relationship.
- Desire to continue the conversation: Neuroscience points us to the Zeigarnik Effect. If the brain believes something is unfinished, it automatically continues to work on finishing it. So, your conversation may continue working in the prospect’s brain. After deep thinking then sleeping, having a mindless shower, or going on a long run, there can be an “aha” moment. Leave your prospect’s brain auto-searching on its own for that burst of inspiration. They will want to share that with you, not your competitor.
Remove the burden of being a KNOWER and differentiate yourself instead as a THINKER.
Get comfortable with saying, “let me think on that.” Release the need for being the person with all the answers. Double down on your curiosity and lead people to think with you. Start today by asking one more question out of curiosity.