Compete on execution, not ideas

The title of this post is from the best-selling author Jim Champy, who I heard speak at the Consulting Magazine conference last Thursday in New York City. Jim is a great storyteller and thinker – see our Top Performer piece to get a feel for his genius.

Jim talked about a number of the books he has written, including his first book, Reengineering the Corporation, which has sold 3 million+ copies and spent more than a year on The New York Times bestseller list. As witnessed by the many books he has written, Jim is a proponent of “giving ideas away” and not trying to horde or protect them, per se.

Per Jim, it is the promotion and popularization of ideas that ultimately provides the most value as they are diffused throughout the market landscape. For example, Jim is now getting a lot of attention and calls from China and Asia Pacific as they begin to more fully incorporate the ideas espoused in his first book, which was published in May of 1994, almost 20 years ago.

For Jim, it is the idea that helps to spark the conversation and dialogue, but it’s the ultimate execution of the idea that keeps the client coming back and delivers the value.

For sellers, the classic Neil Rackham question is good to keep in mind: “Would the customer write you a check for the sales call?” A sales call worth paying for is the ultimate barometer as to whether value was created in the call and conversation. A “walking brochure” or product pitch sales call is unlikely to obtain a check.

You don’t necessarily have to challenge or provoke the customer, which can be used if the situation warrants it, but you should provide some insight and/or foresight that demonstrates thoughtfulness and exploration – see relevant blog post here.

Next time you make a sales call (or one of your sellers does) remember Champy and Rackham and provide something of value – a new idea, a unique analysis or synthesis, or a summary of what your other customers are seeing and hearing and/or how the market is changing.

Per this post, please share in the comments section any ideas that are really resonating with customers and stimulating beneficial conversations.

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