From a comment posted yesterday to Time Span in the Selling Process.
Does the Time Span of the Solution “prop up”, like a crutch, the Time Span of the Sales Person? Does the Stratum of the Sales Person need to match the Buyer’s Stratum AND the Stratum of the Sales Cycle or is the Sales Cycle enough?
Say we have a Stratum III Solution for a Stratum III Buyer (match), yet we have calibrated the Sales Cylce at 3-6 months (Stratum II), so we have recruited and assigned a Stratum II Sales Force. Will the Sales Person (Stratum II) be mismatched to the Buyer (Stratum III), or is it necessary to have a Stratum III Sales Person? Of course, I would prefer to match it, but knowing how few Stratum III Sales People are out there, it makes Outside Sales hiring bleak.
Before the first cast, any good fly fisherman sits and observes the micro-ecosystem of the stream. The clue is in the hatch. Matching the hatch. The fisherman observes the bugs, the color, the size, the action, then pulls out a box of artificial flies to select the match.
Sales is a process of matching. Matching problems with solutions, matching buying cycles with selling cycles, matching selling people with buying people. The tighter the match, the more likely the completion of the sale. Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) helps us understand the importance of the match.
You can call it chemistry, people buy from people they like. NLP, as a science, demonstrates that we, as buyers, respond to people we like, and we like people most like us. At a physical level, the match is in breathing, energy, body language, dialect, facial expression. Often the match is unconscious. We call that natural chemistry, but from a scientific perspective, it is still matching, conscious or unconscious.
Understanding Time Span brings another dimension to understanding matching. People with the same Time Span will more likely be matched in the way they see the world (in terms of logic). Elliott Jaques very specifically described these patterns.
- Stratam I – Declarative. This way of seeing the world is disjunctive. The elements of a solution may be in plain view, yet Stratum I may not connect any of the elements together. The discussion will be mostly opinion without evidence to support the position. Engaging someone in a Stratum I argument can be very frustrating, for there is no requirement of evidence to hold a strong opinion.
- Stratum II – Cumulative. This way of seeing the world is conjunctive. Those same elements seen by Stratum I can be organized and connected together. This person can connect the dots. Often connecting the dots reveals the solution to a problem, especially if that solution has solved the problem before.
- Stratum III – Serial. This is the world of cause and effect. While Stratum II can connect elements together, Stratum III can see cause and effect relationships between those very same elements. Cause and effect elements can be rearranged into system solutions.
- Stratum IV – Parallel. But the world is made of many single serial systems. Stratum IV looks a one system and sees its impact on other systems. The role of Stratum IV is that of the integrator.
Now, we are back to matching. A Stratum II sales person may present a Stratum III solution to a Stratum III buyer, but when questioned about the “why” of the elements inside the system, the conversation will begin to fall apart. Some companies have successfully adopted selling teams comprised of Stratum II and Stratum III team members. Stratum II may gather customer information and identify customer problems. Stratum III may take that information and create a system solution. The selling team may now interface with the buying team, put together for the same reason we put together our selling team. In this process, we still have to identify the decision maker, but also the influencer, the technical expert, the user, and the transaction person.
Matching the hatch. Understanding nature. Understanding Time Span helps us design a more effective sales process and select players for specific roles inside that process.