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How would you sell the answer to everything?

If you invented a single device which solved the problems of the world, the likelihood is you wouldn’t be able to sell it.

If you invented a single device which solved the problems of the world, the likelihood is you wouldn’t be able to sell it. I know that this sounds ridiculous, but there’s a very good and simple reason – people don’t like “catch all solutions”, they prefer something that’s bespoke for their specific problem. 

Think about how this applies in everyday life – if you’ve got a headache and you go to get some painkillers, if you see “painkillers” or “headache painkillers” on the shelf you’re immediately attracted to the latter. Do you think they’re really much different and actually work only for headaches? The same applies to Shampoo for blondes, Shampoo for brunettes, and so on (although this isn’t a product that I tend to need to use much anymore!). The bottom line is simple – specialism sells.

I’ll never forget an event I was at a while back with the Boots procurement team. A delegate asked “we’ve developed a product which is good for acne and ageing skin. Where would you place it in your shop?”. The answer was quite eye opening – “As the markets as quite different – teenagers and over 50’s – we’d package it as two separate products and maybe add scent to the anti-ageing product to appeal more to that buyer. Although they’re the same product we’d price them accordingly too – for example £5 for the acne product and £25 for the anti-aging product”.

So how does this relate to what we do? Simple. When we developed our Innovation courses, the aim was to help companies solve problems and make their business better, which would result in a more productive, efficient and effective workplace. What we found is that by doing this, we achieved many additional benefits which appeal to different people. The course made people happier in the workplace which made them contribute more to the business. We started developing better bonds between people and teams which improved operational relationships. Businesses started becoming self-improving without the need for management intervention.

We got to the point where we didn’t know how to start a pitch because everyone wanted something different. Managing Directors wanted a more innovative organisation which impacted on bottom line, Operations Directors wanted a more efficient, effective and productive workplace, and HR directors wanted a happier workforce to reduce staff turnaround. If we knew who we were talking to, we knew exactly what to pitch – because we knew exactly what they wanted.

We had to tailor our pitch according to who we were talking to – but we then took it a step further. Our course is suited to address any problems or opportunities, in any business, in any sector. This takes us back to our initial thoughts where there wasn’t a clearly defined marketplace. So, we took “Innovation Workforce” and developed sector specific derivates, which delivered the core content, but in the context of a specific industry with tailored examples and case studies. We’ve stated with Digital Workforce, Engineering Workforce, Public Sector Workforce and Healthcare Workforce – and the list is ever growing.

This also gave us the opportunity to develop bespoke courses for larger businesses where the examples and case studies were directly specific to that business. This provided a great opportunity to educate their workforce on both historical issues faced by the organisation and the typical types of problem and opportunity that the employees will face over time – another addition to the Innovation Workforce list of benefits!

Ultimately, what we’ve got is a toolbox which we dive in to, whenever we have the need to help people do something better. The problem we had is no one buys toolboxes anymore – they want the specific tool to address the individual challenge they have. It’s our job to pick out that tool and present it to the client in a timely manner.

Maybe the answer to life, the universe and everything does already exist – it’s just that no one’s looking to answer that specific question, and the creator can’t find the right marketplace…

Richard Harrison