I had an interesting conversation with Hank Barnes last week. We were discussing competitive displacements, a euphemism for stealing clients from your competitors, and the conversation turned to client priorities. Part of displacing your competitor may also include displacing other priorities. Your client may want to change, need to change, and have every intention of eventually doing so, but yet they push that initiative into the future.
Make It Strategic: There is a reason that you should start at Level 4, strategic outcomes in client conversations. The more strategic the outcome, the more important it is. The more important an initiative is to producing the strategic outcomes your client’s need, the more it is imperative that they take action. To make your opportunity more compelling, you need to tie it tightly to what is already compelling. How does what you are proposing to help your client with even greater outcomes?
Increase the Delta: The larger the difference between the client’s current results and the results they need, the more likely it gets done. But looking at cost savings is only one measure of value, and perhaps not the most interesting. How the savings can be used to invest in their other priorities may make the delta more compelling. More still, if your client’s results are poor in one area, the time and energy being exerted to work around issues should be being put towards the more strategic outcomes.
Critical Path: If there is a way you can make your opportunity part of the critical path to results, you can increase the probability of crowding out other initiatives that aren’t tied to the client’s most important projects and initiatives. If you can show how their results would be diminished by moving forward before making the changes you are recommending, you can increase the need to move your opportunity forward.
None of this is easy. It likely means you need to have big conversations with your client’s leadership team to discuss priorities. You also must be able to position your opportunity as something strategic, something essential to their future success. It is, however, necessary and important to create a compelling reason to displace your competitor—and to displace other priorities.
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