I just finished reading Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human. It really resonated with me. Early in the book, Daniel talks about the old world of selling and the new world of selling. In the old world, sales people relied on and exploited information asymmetry – the fact that they knew a lot more than their customers knew.
This kind of information asymmetry is a thing of the past. In fact – it’s swung so far in the other direction that people are often overwhelmed with the amount of information available and need help sorting through it. In the new world, according to Daniel, a sales person needs to be an information curator.
I love this concept. In part, because, it makes selling a collaborative effort between sales person and customer (rather than adversarial) and in part because this is exactly what we’ve been finding ourselves doing at Scope 5 and it has been genuinely fun. How so?
We build and sell sustainability data management tools. The sustainability world is a relatively new world. It’s complicated and there are all sorts of tools out there. Many of our customer prospects are overwhelmed just trying to understand the lay of the land. For many individuals that we meet, sustainability tool shopping is only a small part of a broader set of job responsibilities. These individuals have limited time in which they need to learn new subject matter, make the case for sustainability to their management, procure the right tools and actually do the work. Fortunately, these individuals are usually passionate and mission driven.
And we can help them.
Because we’ve been working with many different customers across a variety of industries and seen them move through their sustainability journeys we’ve learned a lot of lessons that are proving useful to these sustainability pioneers. And we’re finding that much of our job, whether we’re in sales or product development, is to curate information for prospects and for customers, starting with their first inquiry and continuing long after they’ve bought Scope 5.
One illuminating example of this information curation for me was when I first articulated to a customer prospect, the difference between energy management tools and sustainability data management tools. I pretty much told this customer that they don’t really want our product – that they want something else instead.
In so doing, I saved them time, saved us time, helped further the broader mission and secured their trust. When they need a sustainability data management tool – we’ll probably make their short list.
This is just one example of helping a customer prospect by providing information. It goes much deeper and broader. In a future post, I’ll write more about how this culture of information curating is permeating our work.