Marc has many years’ sales experience. But it’s still often difficult to make contact with the right decision-makers in prospective customers’ companies. He’s been trying to get his foot in the door of an international technology company for several weeks, but he keeps being sent from one contact person to the next. Marc therefore doesn’t appear to be making any progress, and is gradually becoming more and more frustrated.
Analyse problem situations as a team
In the next sales meeting, he decides to present the problem to his colleagues in a intervision exercise. Marc is the client, the other salespeople act as consultants, and their manager moderates and keeps an eye on the time. Marc outlines the scenario and the consultants ask factual, open questions. This is because it’s important to first have a clear picture of the situation before you can come up with any solutions. For example:
- Who are you talking to?
- Who is your most important contact?
- Why are there so many contact persons?
- Which questions should you ask?
Marc answers the consultants’ questions one by one, and then clearly explains what he expects from the participants: “I’ve got lost in the customer organisation. I’m looking for specific advice to structure my approach better, find the right angle, get my foot in the door and develop this opportunity – without wasting any more time on conversations with the wrong people.” Thanks to this clear question, the other participants can now give advice and offer solutions.
Marc in turn provides feedback about the advice and presents his action plan. He remains in control of the scenario and retains the solutions he finds interesting to get out of the impasse.
Finally, the consultants are given the chance to offer their opinion about Marc’s action plan, and the sales manager asks what lessons the team can learn from the collaborative exercise.
Everybody learns from a joint effort to find solutions
The strict procedures in Marc’s example force all participants to ask relevant questions and form a clear picture of the situation. There’s no competition between the salespeople – about who comes up with the best proposal – because Marc remains the master of his case. The consultants are forced to actively listen, and aren’t allowed to interact with each other. Marc gradually develops the exercise to find a solution for his impasse, using the advice that he deems useful. The group then helps him to consider his solution in detail.
This technique is called Intervision or Co-development and relies on Collective Intelligence. The solution is created through collaboration and collective efforts focusing on one and the same person: the customer.
Benefits of Collective Intelligence
This technique has a number of interesting benefits:
- Strong sense of collaboration: everyone is prepared to help Marc and trusts the other participants, so any doubts and concerns are easily shared
- Efficiency: Marc moves off the beaten track and tries to have faith in the new solutions suggested by his team, so he can integrate them in his action plan
- Strong commitment to each other and the company: Marc’s case is taken from the daily reality – it’s the type of situation that all the salespeople in the team could come across. They now feel more connected to each other
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