What can I do to win a second chance: using Option Solving?

Just over two weeks ago, I found myself with a small group of salespeople who were sharing business development experiences. One person in particular shared how he seemed to be shut out from an important prospect after an initial meeting which obviously went wrong. He was seeking advice on how he might change the situation, especially as he was at a recent reception where he met certain people from organization X who were wondering why there wasn’t a working relationship with him. This salesperson knew the company principal , but he was not in favor with the buyer S.

I took it upon myself to introduce this group to the concept of Option Solving for resolving difficult situations. After sharing the necessary steps, I encouraged them to come up with a question that would challenge their intuitive minds to develop some alternative solutions. Their question started out with:  What is the best immediate option to get a second chance with S: considering…?

They came up with a list of ten considerations, but decide to focus on 50% of these (or 5), which included: “The failed first attempt, non-response since (despite extra efforts), S’s boss had reintroduced A (the salesperson), the people at X lamented the lack of A’s involvement, and the need to do better next time around.” You will find the full question in the blog’s Latest Example.

With this question in place, they set about arriving at two “bookends”. These were to be two extreme, “yin and yang” options that would provoke their intuitive mind’s to push them away in preference for more plausible options. They would also set boundaries on the range of alternative possibilities. Following some lively deliberations, they produced two: “Sit and wait for S to call (she may never do so),” and “Do something bizarre to catch her attention (this may invoke more difficulties).” Note how each bookend was qualified as to why it wasn’t a viable option.

 Since the group couldn’t work with these extreme options, they rapidly started exchanging alternatives.  Ultimately they created 5, two of which were: “Wait for 2 weeks and nudge her boss again,” and “Send something special to S in the mail” You will find their three other thoughtful options in our Latest Example.

Now we adopted some “emotional distancing” for the next 10-15 minutes, where we talked about other sales challenges. We covered up their option picture in the meantime, so that the group’s “innate common sense” or intuitions would work their incredible magic, in an instant, once they returned to it. During this emotional distancing, their minds would subconsciously chew over all their similar experiences and ideas.

At the 15 minute mark, the option picture was uncovered and participants were requested to confidentially write down the alphabet letter that corresponded to their choice.  It only took a few moments for them to hand over their “ballot” choices. Once the tally was in, a primary choice emerged: even though there were other suggestions. ‘A’ decided to pursue this suggestion, since it was the “wisdom of the crowd.” We can tell you it was the right choice: you can take your own guess.

If you have an example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.  Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: ‘What can we do to woo someone our way?’  Let’s have your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

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