Over the last two weeks, we’ve looked at the A and B of the new A-B-C sales paradigm: Attunement and Buoyancy. This week we’re examining the C of this journey: Clarity. Clarity is about asking the right questions.
The old paradigm had a single outcome: Closing a sale. Therefore, most of us took a tool-based approach: for Problem A, take Toolkit I; for Problem B, take Toolkit II, and so forth.
In the same way, most of us likewise took a technician’s approach to clarity. Do I have enough tools in my toolkit to handle anything? Once I find The Problem, I apply the corresponding Toolkit. However, with the complexity of life today, a more necessary meta-tool has emerged: the ability to discover the framework to identify the right problem to be solved.
Many of us are still using the equivalent of sextants and the North Star to gain clarity of navigation. At best we might be using maps from the 1950s. Yet we have at our fingertips multi-layered Google Maps with so much more available to us!
When I worked in competitive marketing, I monitored other companies’ activities daily. I was especially vigilant to look for signs of activity in markets adjacent to our products. It would have been impossible, even eight years ago, to track all the potential competitive threats that emerge from seemingly unrelated markets, industries, or events. What happens today is lightning-fast and seemingly erratic innovative trends—consider the emergence of tools like Dropbox, Twitter, Square, the tablet, and the smart phone.
What tools can you use to achieve creative clarity with your clients?
We need to approach clients’ challenges with an open hand. Rather than fixating on the 80-20 Rule—80% of our challenges can be addressed by known solutions—what if we open ourselves to greater complexity? It requires the humility of Attunement and Buoyancy to respond to things as fascinating rather than bad, in addition to the Clarity of asking questions.
Consider a few of Dan Pink’s suggestions:
- Ask the irrational question. This allows getting past the resistance (see the War of Art for an excellent running metaphor for this challenge) to the real reasons we in fact want to do something. Suppose you are procrastinating on an important project at work. (Or this time of year, completing your tax returns). Ask yourself two questions:
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, with a 1 meaning ‘not the least bit ready’ and a 10 being ‘totally ready,’ how ready are you to fill out your tax return?
Once you answer this question, ask yourself:
2. Why didn’t you pick a lower number?
By examining why you didn’t pick a lower number, you begin to articulate your intrinsic motivation for wanting to fill out your tax return and moving from the formerly resistant behavior to perhaps even getting it done sooner than April 15.
- Ask the “Five Whys.” Design firm IDEO realized that all of us have a bit of the 5 year old in us and can learn a lot about the world by asking “Why” more than once! Once we get the answer to the first “Why?” we ask again. And again. And again. And again. And, if our client is patient, again. This is one of the best ways to discover the hidden problem that might otherwise elude discovery.
- Find the 1 percent. Pink relates the story of a gem of wisdom from Professor Koh’s International Business Transactions course. Koh said that if one can discover the 1% that is the key to the other 99% of an issue, one is likely close to discovering a, perhaps the, problem worth solving.
Share with us:
What other tools have you found helpful in creating the Clarity needed to make sense of a convoluted situation?