Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade school science class. Now it’s time to reframe that blast from the classroom past as a business tool. In hypothesis-based selling, the method championed in Matthew Dixon’s The Challenger Sale, one’s ability to accurately predict the needs of a customer organization is a critical component to success.

Hypothesis-based sellers lead with ideas about what a customer organization needs.

To put this method into practice, you need to do some homework. Research your customer organization’s industry and history so that you enter the initial meeting with several hypotheses on your customer organization’s challenges—in other words, your ideas on what the customer organization needs. Focus on big-picture outcomes rather than measurements or technical details at this stage.

Next, reframe your hypotheses in the context of a bigger problem or opportunity. Your unique insights into these customer challenges become your unique value in the eyes of the customer.

Hypothesis-based selling works because you are giving the customer a new opportunity rather than focusing on a known problem. Don’t ask a customer what he or she needs and then explain how you will fulfill that need. Tell your customer what is needed and then explain the unique value you bring to the opportunity.

Striking out as one of a hundred applicants to the same job posting?

Hypothesis-based selling works for job seekers too. Before approaching a potential employer, develop a list of hypotheses. The list should include what you believe to be problems or opportunities for that employer. Next, brainstorm ways for your unique skills to solve those problems or take advantage of the opportunities on behalf of the employer.

Don’t wait for an official job posting—call up potential employers and ask for a few minutes to present some of your brilliant ideas. The mutual benefit of this job-seeking method is that the potential employer gains your informed insights while you create demand for your unique skills.

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By (Mark Jewell, CEO of Selling Energy | | | research, value |
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