If you have visited many board rooms as I have done, you have probably been asked this question several times that you may have lost count. Not me. I always take note of all rejections and assess why. I then take time to consider common objections and ideal responses. In these #COVID19 times, you have to think away from the box to win. Businesses are struggling and the none-resilient ones are closing shop. Many people are losing their jobs.
The law of the jungle has never been real than it is today. The big and shrewd animals are having the small and slow ones for dinner. The big trees are climbing on the small trees to access sunlight. And with their canopy, big trees are making sure the small plants stay down and starve due to lack of sunlight. To get through the thick canopy, the small trees must be shrewd.
When it comes to small business owners, the struggle is real. They are proverbial small trees that must climb on big ones to see sunlight, even if it means risking their survival.
As consultants, at Summit Consulting Ltd we believe that when you have the right idea and take it to the right buyer, they will listen to what you have to say. We also believe that it is the responsibility of the prospective buyer to subject your proposals or ideas to stress-test and analytics to expose it in case it is not grounded or thought out. So, we are always identifying a target. Researching deeply about their challenges and coming up with novel solutions to solve their challenges. We know they would love to listen to us. And are willing to challenge us to prove the applicability of our novel ideas instead of asking questions like “tell us where else you have implemented this”, a foolish question usually expected of some government employees who love travelling to ‘benchmark’ to copy ideas since they often lack originality and or love to enjoy sitting for long in airplanes…”
Back to the issue.
Our focus is to deliver a solution that is easy to use, cheaper than all existing solutions and brings more net benefits in addition to all other parameters of social, technical, and environmental viability.
But once in a while, we take great ideas to negative people. There is nothing as tiring as that – taking the good news to a person who is biased and swimming in ignorance. Instead of listening to what you have to propose, they have already made up their mind to reject your ideas and have killer questions to bias everyone in the room.
Recently I was at a prospect, demonstrating our latest governance, risk, and the compliance software (actionTEAM GRC) application that transforms the manual MS Excel risk register, into a dynamic one that is updated daily enterprisewide and is always up-to-date showing the real state of risk in the business. Even more, we demonstrated the API that links to the institution’s core Enterprise Resource Planning system to provide real-time business intelligence and data analytics, as well as automates common compliance processes giving great cost-cutting and insights to the management to see the details that matter for informed decision making.
The lady finance, from behind the room, raised her and asked: “where else has this worked?”
Now I know it is true that some people got average passes and suddenly found themselves behind offices. How else can someone ask a question like that in this era where creative thinking and innovation is the most prized asset? Many people are looking at how to re-write their business models and strategic interventions to win.
I looked at her and tried hard to restrain myself.
But sometimes you have to be you even if the deal slips away. It is difficult to progress if one has to put up with useless questions.
I fixed my gaze at her and said:
“When we had just started, the CEO in his opening remarks said the team is looking for innovative solutions and ideas that make the competition irrelevant. To paraphrase his exact words he said, “we are blue ocean thinkers’ company. We embrace blue oceans which are yet to be discovered and exploited and not red oceans where everyone is fighting to survive.” And I loved that perspective. How can you embrace the blue oceans if I have to propose solutions which I have already implemented somewhere else?
I asked, looking directly in her eyes.
I added “we have chosen to start this solution with you so that you have a competitive advantage. Do things differently. It may involve some risks, but for this solution, we don’t see any risks. You will only reap benefits.”
My response hit her like a punch to the gut.
I saw her face change like someone trying to swallow something bigger than their throat. To break the silence, the MD, said, fantastic. This is wonderful. Work with our IT and legal team to explore the technical requirements for integration and legal in case of any issues to access our core data. Otherwise, I love the idea. There is no reason why we cannot try it. And I love the fact that Summit has decided to start this great project with us.
Thanks a lot, the team from Summit. Let us get this thing working. I am elated. Everyone loves CEO’s who have a long-term view and have an eye and ears for great ideas.
If you are a businessman or consultant, you will likely meet many people who are still stuck in the past. Asking questions that try to undermine your capabilities. These are folks with neo-colonialism mindset and are still stuck in the past thinking that local professionals cannot implement wonderful projects.
They are wrong. Be prepared for them. Put them where they belong. In the sidelines. If they ask useless questions, overpower them with intelligent responses that make them stand out as idiots. Yes. The easiest way to fight bullies is to return too much power and overwhelm them.
Wish you success in your hassle. One day you will make it.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.