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Design Thinking in Sales

by Marguerite Zimmerman

Chances are when you see a current client or prospect you build trust and you get right into problem identification.
Chances are you start asking questions that help you pinpoint what problems the customer has that you can solve with your product or service. And you then present your product or solution when the first opportunity arises in the dialogue.
Our research with thousands of Momentium users is that the vast majority of salespeople get too specific too quickly. Most salespeople and managers typically get convergent too quickly.

A convergent approach means you chunk down and look for solutions within what is already known. The downside of this is there is often a missed opportunity to truly understand the prospect’s real problem. Consequently, your solution is likely to look a lot like what your competitors will offer.

A divergent approach means you chunk up. You look outwards, up, broadly, everywhere to find the biggest opportunities. When the opportunities have been identified you then shift to convergent to move toward the biggest mutually beneficial solution.

Design thinking in sales is incredibly fun and rewarding. It provides you, the seller, an opportunity to work with your prospect or buyer to design a solution that is unique to them. It shifts the value equation and creates differentiation. It is a true shift away from the price lens.

Design Thinking in Sales – 3 Tips –

  1. Start by doing your research. In the book Naked Sales they share a story of an account executive for a software company who took an 8-hour bus ride to better understand his prospect Greyhound. What he learned shifted his approach completely in his first discovery meeting.


  1. Be willing to take more time on discovery so you can save time later when closing the deal. While today most salespeople do spend more time on the discovery, it’s frequently not in moving to divergent thinking, so a great deal of their time is spent negotiating on price and terms or competing against the competition.


  1. Be willing to come up with some options and co-create with your prospect. This creates a couple of advantages. First, the ideas do not have to be fully developed and most importantly, it allows your prospect to co-create with you. Which leads to emotional buy-in and action.
About Marguerite
Marguerite Zimmerman is CEO of E=mz2 Inc. & Founder of Momentium. Her career has been dedicated to helping sales forces maximize their performance.
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Design Thinking in Sales