Persuading through Competitive Intelligence Tools: the Cooperative Angle
Using Tactical Competitive Intelligence for Decision-Making alluded to the chart below, minus the weighting scales of this Company Comparison analysis. Recall this analysis portrayed and compared the top 3 PBX manufacturers according to customers’ top reasons for buying PBX equipment. These comparisons addressed the strengths that our key dissenter claimed for ROLM, but also illustrated some of the weaknesses that he was not previously aware of. The analysis supported the key dissenter showing that customers were very impressed with ROLM’s technical features. But since ROLM’s architecture differed from the other systems on the market, our installation, maintenance, and repair crews would have to be specially trained to support it, at additional time and expense—news to our key dissenter.
This chart weighted each reason for the customer’s buying criteria. 1 is the highest or most important reason for buying. Customers highly valued Northern Telecom’s (Nortel) reliability and good service, which were perceived as average for ROLM. Our dissenter changed his mind when shown that customers’ buying decisions were minimally swayed by technology but hugely influenced by service and reliability, Northern Telecom strengths, not ROLM’s. With this presentation, the dissenter realized that his reasons for acquiring ROLM were not accurate from a customer’s perspective.
The Cooperative Angle
Our analysis allowed our key dissenter to change his mind with dignity, and illustrates cooperative intelligence practices as follow:
Cooperative Leadership: We acknowledged the leadership of our key dissenter by finding out his reasons for preferring a ROLM acquisition. On the flip side, our leadership skills were valued by our management since they trusted us to conduct the acquisition analysis.
Cooperative Connection: We connected with the key dissenter and addressed each of his reasons point by point, showing respect and acknowledgement. We connected with the right people both within our company, Sales; and outside the company, a reputable consultant, to gather the right information to put together a persuasive analysis in “executive speak”.
Cooperative Communication: The presentation to our executives consisted of just 3 charts which told the story persuasively and understandably: The BCG Matrix Share, The Telco Company Analysis Chart and lastly the Customer Weighting Chart. We could tell a story with each chart which built upon the preceding chart. People like stories, and I notice stories make it easy to avoid ego conflicts. Using the customer’s decision-making criteria rather than our opinions, was a gentle, yet persuasive way to communicate our analysis.
Don’t be so persuasive that you forget about the dignity of the people you are addressing. Tell a good story that leads them to your conclusions, as though your audience had thought them up themselves. This works with everyone I have ever addressed regardless of profession or culture.
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