The power of ‘maybe not’

Our client was faced with a dilemma. Two of its best salespeople had an idea for a new business. But the idea was terrible … The thinking behind the new concept was jumbled, confused and incoherent. The plan could not possibly work. But the two budding entrepreneurs had absolute faith in their idea, so had presented management with an ultimatum – either they backed the new launch or the two would leave and set it up themselves as a new business. Management did not want to lose the pair, so commissioned us to see if there might be some scope to find a viable business concept buried within the rambling business plan.

We managed to pull something together, but such a small opportunity that it failed to spark any enthusiasm among either management or the two salespeople. So the two left in a huff and set the business up anyway, along the lines of their original outline plan. It failed before its launch through lack of interest among their potential customers. Just as management had predicted. The two are now back at their sales desks at the company.

The venture was hopeless because of their sales mindset. As salesmen they were used to countering the ‘negative thinking’ of other people in order to secure the sale. They had a positive, ‘can do’ attitude, and they were sure they could make this work despite the doubts expressed by others. They saw every problem as an opportunity, when in this case the problems were … problems. The resilience to someone else’s doubts and reservations, which could be an advantage in a sales situation, became a fatal disadvantage when it came to assessing the viability of the new business. There was a critical faculty missing and so the pair were quite incapable of assessing the risks objectively. What could be a strength in a salesperson became a handicap in a business development environment. I am just saying that it is not always about the ‘power of yes’.

– end –


Published by Peter Runkel. Not an introvert nor an HSP … but neurotic, in fact. Reluctant business consultant. Lives life in PowerPoint.

Published by Peter Runkel

Being quite reserved, I have always been interested in those people at the other end of the spectrum - the ones with an unswerving self-belief, sometimes apparently quite out of proportion to their abilities. I wanted to be like them - their lives seemed so much easier by comparison. Now, having thought about it, I’m not so sure I do. I think they have also got it wrong, just in the equal and opposite way. And it's actually about finding some sort of balance.

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