November 13, 2013 Leave a comment
Whether you realize it or not, every sales call produces tension. But only one type of tension contributes to successful outcomes. Which of the three types most closely represents your approach?
Following is a question I received today on Quora regarding Constructive Tension that I thought others might find of interest…
“I am interested in who has used the business insights approach in The Challenger Sale approach? What has been their experience in how it sits creating constructive tension?”
Following is my response to this question.
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‘Constructive tension’ is exactly that…constructive, IF it has been created appropriately and the opportunity to do so has been earned. While there is much more to this question than I can respond to here, the following three keys are critical to creating the ‘constructive’ kind of tension:
- Establish credibility - Without this, there is no need to proceed further.
- Reframe thinking - Once you have established you are credible with insight about matters affecting their business and/or industry, you help them think differently about a problem that they previously misunderstood or didn’t anticipate.
- Appropriately placed tension - When creating constructive tension, it is imperative that the tension is between the prospect and their status quo. When inappropriately done, the tension is between prospect and rep. This is not constructive, but rather destructive tension.
I commonly refer to three types of tension based upon CEB’s model of ‘constructive tension.’
- Constructive. Tension created between the prospect and the problem they are currently facing. What makes it constructive tension is when prospects find living with their problem no longer tenable.
- Destructive. This kind of tension inappropriately causes tension between wrong parties…the prospect and the rep. This typically presents itself in its destructive form with a rep-centric agenda.
- Unproductive. This type of tension occurs when a rep offers nothing of value to benefit the prospect warranting a meeting in the first place. As a result, the tension occurs in the form of the prospect ending the meeting as quickly as professionally possible.
In summary, constructive tension is great. It serves as the catalyst for change and if guided properly and appropriately ending in your solution, it will be tremendously valuable to the prospect.
About the Author: Jeff Michaels is a 20-year Sales & Marketing Executive that works with executives, leaders, and teams to create repeatable success in their business. Articles posted here typically emphasize one or more of the three requirements leading to Repeatable Success — Intentionality, Predictability and Repeatability.