During my career, first in finance, then as an Executive Coach, Challenger Advisor and Consultant in my own businesses, I’ve coached and worked firsthand with sellers and executives around the world. Despite the varying engagements, I’ve noticed a common challenge that affects stakeholders right across business – the siloed or blinkered view that professionals have, based on their own lived experience.
Working with sales teams is fundamentally about helping them better understand their client’s business, and to have conversations in a way that creates value for all parties. This is stubbornly challenging for many sellers to achieve consistently because it requires sellers to move beyond use cases, buzzwords, and a pitch deck, and to instead tailor conversations, build credibility and trust by articulating insights contextually relevant to the customer, that enables them to see their own business challenges in a new light.
In my parallel work as an executive coach with senior and C-suite executives, I have noticed that leaders who have had vertical career trajectories (ie. being promoted within functional/industry silos), can find when they get to the top, their ability to be effective cross-functionally is under-developed. Further, the human element of decision making exists. In working through difficult decisions to find a path forward, there are no perfect answers, things are rarely black and white, issues are complex and nuanced, there are trade-offs for everything, and decisions ripple for better and/or worse through organisations. The decisions they work through can generate strong emotions.
Even very experienced client facing professionals can take a narrow view, inevitably through the lens of their own solution. Many oversimplify decision making realities, rely heavily on rational ROIs and business cases but take a shallow or cynical view to the human element. They stay in their own wheelhouse with a few senior client stakeholders directly related to their solution. Many will embrace buy-in from one stakeholder, overlooking complexity and risk, and over-estimate that stakeholders’ capacity to work effectively across functions, leaving too much to chance and stalling the consensus building required.
Breaking down silos and building empathy doesn’t have to be so hard
The gap between how sellers see decisions and how buyers experience them frustrates both sides of the virtual table and inhibits everyone’s growth. We need to close it, and we’ve built Wyda from the ground up to do it.
To help sellers be effective in senior business conversations and create impact for clients, they need to understand the foundations of business – the building blocks of financial statements, business language, strategy, metrics, what each function does and cares about. There is growing recognition that business acumen is fundamental, and although it’s not innate, it can be learned.
To solve the issue, organisations invest in training courses to impart business acumen, but soon find this gets them less than halfway to what they need. It doesn’t create the awakening that is needed to change behaviour and client conversations. It’s business savvy, not just business acumen that is really needed.
We need to put our sellers in the client’s shoes to develop deeper empathy for the complexities, the nuance, the trade-offs. We need to help them take theory into application. We need to develop a much wider perspective to see the whole board, by experiencing where the overlap between the different C-level roles, what are the common goals and where there are completely separate or actually conflicting priorities. We need to help time-poor sellers develop business SAVVY – the foundational acumen PLUS perspective, empathy, nuance, experience and a bias to dealmaking.
Wyda: a new and different learning experience
Wyda is a blended learning program, combining active independent learning with reflection, coaching and peer discussion. We have chosen a business simulation game, with a fictitious company that could be one of your clients for obvious reasons – literally walk in the client’s shoes. It’s an engaging and high accountability medium, it’s fast paced, realistic and employs the science of how the brain works and learns to optimise retention. It’s also an authentic way to change your perspective for a while. It allows us to mirror real world complexity in learning – we apply a learning concept called Interleaving – rather than ‘blocking’ skills into modules and learning in sequence you instead learn in context and see how these skills come together – learn, apply, reflect. This helps us to layer in new concepts, reinforce and connect knowledge, reactivate concepts and apply in a new context.
The thing that surprises our learners the most about their Wyda experience is that it makes them feel a range of different emotions across the game. The ‘safe space to learn without real world consequence’ is expected, but when you are in that world there is enough psychological safety to admit what you don’t know and explore, yet the competitiveness to give your best effort. Just like the real world while they are working on achieving ‘X’ there will be a disruption, something unexpected that they need to deal with that might invoke a feeling of shock, pride, intrigue, nervousness, responsibility, frustration….and that’s where the ah-hah moments happen about how you can better engage your clients. Emotion locks in memory, behaviour change follow.
Learn more about Wyda at https://www.wydagame.com