The Prevailing Point of View

By Jim Whitt

A friend sent me an article entitled In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers* in which the authors write about provocation-based selling. Being a professional provoker, I found the principles described in provocation-based selling to be congruent with my approach as a consultant and speaker.

One of the things I really like about the provocation-based selling approach is that it challenges the prevailing point of view as opposed to aligning with the prevailing point of view. You can sell a lot of stuff to people using the prevailing point of view because it’s familiar to them. But you’re never going to make the changes you need to make in your life, or your organization, if you stick with the familiar.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Following the prevailing point of view resulted in the worldwide economic meltdown that started in 2008 that we’re still mired in today. The prevailing point of view hasn’t plugged the hole that’s been spewing oil in the Gulf since the rig exploded on April 20. If you subscribe to the prevailing point of view you can expect similar results.

Challenging the prevailing point of view makes people uncomfortable. It provokes them! Now, I have to be honest with you. There are a lot of people who do not appreciate being challenged — because they are going to follow the path of familiarity even when it leads to nowhere.

It’s those who appreciate being provoked that I’m interested in. They’re the ones who will be building the paths to the future.

* In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers by Philip Lay, Todd Hewlin, and Geoffrey Moore, Harvard Business Review, March 2009

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