In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers???

25 Mar


There’s a fascinating article in the Harvard Business Review Online with this “provocative” title. It suggests that selling in a more traditional way– find a point of pain and address it– may not work in the current B to B environment. The authors discuss being provocative, which includes the following elements:

To begin a provocation-based sale, you must do three things well: identify a problem that will resonate with a line executive in the target organization; develop a provocative point of view about that problem (one that links, naturally, to what your company has to offer); and lodge that provocation with a decision maker who can take the implied action.

The article discusses how to go about these steps, and offers examples of companies that have used the approach. I think HR executives could take a similar approach to “selling” the value of HR in these challenging times. Some leaders may be willing to abandon good human capital practices to “save money”, which is exactly the wrongdirection to go. For those of us committed to building great workplaces– because we know that is one key ingredient right now– let’s be provocative!

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