Three Tales of Innovation, Demand Creation & Insane Profitable Growth
The lawyer – a lawyer! – said to me, “I don’t really practice law anymore, per se. We do things a little differently at my firm.”
“How’s that?” I replied, coffee spilling down my chin.
“I connect people who need connecting. It’s more valuable to the client. Besides, it’s more aligned with my belief system.” A wry grin crossed his face.
My next words came carefully, sensing I was dealing with something unfamiliar, yet progressive. “How do you make money without billable hours?” Surely I had him cornered.
“Team approach,” he said proudly. “I determine who within our firm can best solve the client’s problem, and connect them. And my compensation plan supports this type of structure.”
And there it was, a legal firm that had evolved into a demand creation organization, little to no selling required. Unprecedented value had been designed, developed and delivered, driving significant profitable revenue growth for their organization (and the “quarterback” lawyer) – one of the fastest growing in a top 50 U.S. metropolitan area.
“Sure, demand creation might work for some lucky company, but it could never happen with an elite salesperson. They’re just not wired that way. Besides, the old methods work just fine for a top seller.” The sales trainers, sipping beers at 2:30 in the afternoon, sounded both certain and spooked.
Enter one of the most accomplished business development professionals in the wealth management industry.
When exposed to the demand creation framework and architecture, a lightning bold shot through his once-soiled-by-sales-gurus brain. “If I do this right, I’ll never have to ‘sell’ again.” To which I replied, “No shit, Sherlock. That’s what I’ve been telling you.”
Three months later, the first iteration of his new business took shape. While he’d been taking clients on hunting and fishing trips for some time, it was never purpose-driven. Now knowing why his new enterprise existed, and the difference he wanted to make in people’s lives, he began living it: “Helping transitioning business owners find their ‘next.’”
CEOs and business owners paid handsomely for membership, instantly realizing the unprecedented value. Where else could they experience a sportsman’s paradise-type experience, coupled with the extensive network the proprietor provided?
Standing in one of Tierra del Fuego’s (Argentina) gorgeous streams, the CEO fly fisherman turned and squinted at the proprietor of this amazing company. “I want to run a hot air balloon company next.” The demand creator replied, “No problem. There are three people I’ll put you in touch with who can help you win, shortening the ramp up time significantly.” Proving that serendipity was alive and well, a 22-inch brown trout attacked the CEOs line, right on cue.
Overhearing the conversation, a well-known business owner – off to their right – asked a similar question. “I’m thinking about investing in, and managing champion race horses in Lexington, Kentucky. You know, to eventually get into the Triple Crown race series.”
The demand creator could only smile, as he recently made strong inroads into the national horse racing business. After an expert cast, he said, “Sure. Easy peasy.”
The President of a design/build manufacturer had a problem: Quarterly revenue performance was on a roller coaster the past few years – some months were good while other months were not.
“How do we get off this amusement ride and achieve a consistent growth path?”
I replied, “Well, what have you done to identify the root cause of the up and down nature of performance? And, what have you done to correct it?”
Tens of thousands of dollars had been spent on sales training, marketing programs, market research, and other traditional “solutions.” While some of it worked to varying degrees, nothing had provided consistent, sustainable and profitable growth results.
“There’s going to be some heavy lifting involved,” I said, “in the form of understanding – and probably adjusting – your belief system. But I can promise you this. If you execute against what I’ll propose, you will drive results like you’ve never seen before.”
“Sounds great!” the top dog said.
Consider what was subsequently revealed to the senior leadership team: Don’t ever sell solutions, only the problem; Revenue and marketing are not departments: Leadership is responsible for a value proposition that creates demand, not the sales or marketing organizations.
Today, their rallying cry is, “We liberate people from mediocre experiences.” Profound? Consider what the CEO relayed just months after going down the demand creation road.
“I was at a civic event, and a top prospect who was in charge of building an interactive nature-oriented museum approached me, saying that she needed to meet with our company. She informed that the design element – the blueprints – had already been executed by a local architectural firm, and that we were in the running for the internal manufacturing component.
“Because our purpose had recently become ‘We liberate people from mediocre experiences,’ I had to share with her that we’d need to perform both the design and build components, or risk a less than mediocre experience. Swallowing hard, I politely declined the offer, fully aware of the dollars at stake.
“She paused, knowing what had already been invested in blueprints. She then said she understood, but still wanted to visit with us at our offices, which I agreed to. To my surprise, after her plant tour and conversation with our leadership team, she ended up awarding us the entire project! Apparently having conviction with fulfilling purpose is good business. We’ll never go back to the old way.”
Knowing who you are, and who you are not, has proven to be attractive to prospects and customers alike. Having a firm stake in the ground, forcing the marketplace to choose sides, is indeed good business.
Similarly, providing unprecedented value – not mere sameness or the popular “value add” – creates demand. To “see what others miss” requires ethnography, a particular mindset and skill set, and most importantly, a “Level Five” senior leader, one who is both humble and willful. Demand creation and monopoly design is not for the faint of heart. Rather, it is reserved for only top disruptors who truly want to make a difference in the world.
NOTE: If you’d like to learn more about how to avoid traditional selling, and how The Attraction Model works, please get your copy of Clean Slate today, now available for Amazon Kindle.
Why leadership should trash their current business model, reject popular sales advice, operate like a startup, and leverage the new rules for prosperity to achieve explosive profitable revenue growth (PRG).