Ideas vs Products

As a lifelong ‘sales-type’ I’ve never really consciously separated my advocacy for ideas from my advocacy for products. Until now, that is.

As I’ve chosen to contribute more of my energies to climate change – and specifically to ameliorating it – I’ve begun to realise that to successfully promote ‘ideas’ (such as the economic sense of adopting 100% renewables ) it is essential to present a much broader range of ‘possibilities’ or values/benefits, so that those receiving your message can find something that they can ‘agree’ with – something they can see as a benefit to them and that they can build on with their knowledge. That’s not so different to how you might best promote a product.

What is different about promoting ideas is that it is MUCH more important to avoid triggering a ‘reaction’ – generating an adverse response before you’ve achieved an ‘agree’ response. If you first trigger a reaction – everything you say that follows is ignored. If on the other hand you have achieved some form of ‘agree’ prior to that ‘reaction’, no matter what, your target audience will begin to reason – to reframe the benefit in their terms and also to reframe their triggers of reaction. They will continue to do this in their own time, too.

As is so often the case, I am indebted to Clive James who, if I may paraphrase his genius, wrote that “You cannot reason someone out of a position they did not reason themselves into”. This is absolutely true. Curiously, they can reason themselves out of such a position!

The ideal outcome of the idea-sale is to establish sufficient connection that the target/prospect continues to reason with themselves ’til they overcome their own objections.

You may, or may not, require such a person to take an action upon overcoming their internal objections. You may, or may not, be seeking to recruit such a person to further promote your cause. You do not even need to confirm that they have indeed overcome all of their objections. You merely need to plant one seed of doubt in their mind.

Perhaps that is the key difference between product and idea selling – with product selling you want a definite action (raise a PO!). Or do you?

Perhaps a seed of doubt is all you need to prevent some competitors “done deal”?