Developing Insights for Lead Generation

People struggle with the Lean Marketing concept. Especially one that does not lead with Lean Startup type thinking. They struggle to see how problem-solving can be an effective approach to growing market-share.  Using the problem/solution type approach causes a marketing effort geared towards a customer versus a collaborative approach. This goes back to that Goods/Product-Dominant Logic approach versus the Service Dominant Logic approach. Differing with most in my approach, I consider the practice of PDCA as a knowledge building exercise versus the more traditional approach of problem-solving. I use this thinking to learn more about customers.

In support of that approach, I have relied on tools like SOAR (vs. SWOT), Appreciative Inquiry and the further development of EDCA (Explore) introduced to me by Graham Hill. EDCA is sort of akin to the Lean Startup type thinking. The trilogy of SDCA, PDCA, and EDCA serves me well for introducing and practicing (Lean) marketing with many companies. The act of knowledge building, learning from customers, playing in the customer’s playground (their market) continues to dominant my thoughts.

This was the roots of the development of The Funnel of Opportunity. As I learned about customer development, I worked from the known to the unknown always looking for insight from key customers to find new ones. I stopped segmenting by value streams and started clustering customers by desired outcomes. I started looking for similarities in customers in the way we conducted business and how we participate in their playground (their marketplace). This was the place I found insights and once again from a Lean perspective where I found Gemba.

My quest became on how to develop better insights. I searched and spent a great deal of time with Scenarios, and Outcome Mapping and both have proven to be invaluable resources for me. I also rediscovered Gary Klein, who had written one of my favorite books of all time, Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions. He had just published several more books and discussing more and more on how insights are developed. In this video, Gary Klein addresses specifically about the idea of problem-solving versus gaining insights. He starts the presentation,

Several years ago I added a new slide to the talks that I gave on how people make decisions I had no idea what I was getting myself into I’m a cognitive psychologist. I study how people make tough decisions under time pressure and uncertainty historically decision researchers look at the kinds of errors and biases that people make that get in the way of good decisions my research is just the opposite.

I look at our strengths. I look at the ways we can use our experience and so the new slide was basically a blend of those two factors two arrows this is really a very simple slide there’s something you got to reduce that’s the down arrow you’ve got to reduce errors no doubt about that, but that’s not enough you don’t want to go home at night and say I had a great day I didn’t make any mistakes you’re hoping for more than that and that’s the up arrow you want to increase your achievements your accomplishments you want to have more insights you want to do both of those things audience has resonated to the two slides people would say my organization they’re all about the down arrow that’s all I care about cutting mistakes, and that’s what I expected. What I didn’t expect was the next question that I get what can you tell us about the up arrow where the insights come from, and I’d say I don’t have any idea and they didn’t find that very satisfying answer.

Klein goes on to discuss the three primary reasons that prevent us from having insights:

  1. Unconscious assumptions that he calls creative desperation.
  2. Connections, seeing what pieces work together.
  3. Contradictions, where you see the pieces, don’t fit together

In the latter part of the presentation, Klein makes four suggestions on how to create and increase insights:

  1. Make insights a habit part of your repertoire.
  2. Use your curiosity especially with anything that comes up that’s unusual or unexpected.
  3. Encourage other people and get them to generate insights
  4. Embrace confusions and contradictions and conflicts the things that irritate us.

Many will see the value of having added insight with customers but not necessarily as any game-changer. This ability to start using this type of thinking, the added insight with customers, strengthens the way to create clusters. It becomes a method to forecast and envision the future. When you participate with customers and become closer to their customers, more insights are developed. You see greater opportunities for them and yourself. Some may call it sensemaking, others just see it as a better way of collaboration.

Doe this happen with every customer? Not at all, only with key accounts does it typically occur. Before this, The Funnel of Opportunity was basically something of an Account-Based Marketing approach. Now, it became a real thing; a way of looking and developing opportunity. It may seem like an unstructured, qualitative way for developing customers, markets. However, I adhere to the USA Principle – Understand, Simplify, Automate. These new ways of using insights enable better understanding and simplifies a way of discovering and clustering customers, prospects, and markets.

There are a few automated processes that are being developed that mimic this approach. I am not alone In my thinking. I envision these insights being used described very well by Alex Endert in this video. His focus is on finding ways the user and the computer system can co-create knowledge by teaching and learning from each other. If you view this video, I think that you can see how insight can be displayed. How we can use that information and change the center of focus as needed. We can focus on any sales channel, distribution path, desired outcomes, and even our customer’s playground by dragging the node to the center. They become our new insights taking them to another level. These paths become our Funnel of Opportunity.

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