CEB: Don’t Lead with Your Solution, Lead To It


Everyone hates the guy at the party who can only talk about how great he is. He’s a triathlete. He doesn’t eat gluten. He saved someone from drowning. He climbed Everest. And you know what? He might be amazing. But we hate hearing that directly from him.

It’s similar when salespeople lead with their own solution. As CEB as covered in its books and seminars, if your primary stakeholder, or Mobilizer, leads a solution discussion with your solution, it compromises credibility. CEB says what you can do is help the Mobilizer lead fellow stakeholders to your solution. The buying group will naturally gravitate towards your specific solution if you and the Mobilizer frame the value of your solution’s differentiators as being the only way to fulfill the outcomes needed by their business.

Remember: it’s crucial to teach customers that the pain of the same is greater than the pain of change. CEB shows that the only way to get customers to think differently about you is to first get them to think differently about their business. If you and the Mobilizer do this in a way that leads to needs that only your solution can provide, consensus will naturally follow.

To do this, CEB writes, you must successfully break down a customer’s current paradigm—or Mental Model—and replace it with a new (initially vendor-agnostic) alternative. You have to change how customers think about their business in a way that leads back to your unique differentiator.

According to CEB, true differentiators are not:

  • Features and benefits common in your market
  • Outcomes that your product generates
  • Vague or overused descriptions that include any of the following words:
    • innovative
    • green
    • user friendly
    • solution

The key to real insight isn’t a story about your solution at all. It’s a story about the customer and how they’ve missed something materially important to the performance of their business. But, for a complete understanding of how to use the insight in your own process and with your own potential customers, we recommend reading CEB’s The Challenger Customer.

Click Watch Demo below to learn more about how Consensus helps sales teams effectively navigate stakeholder waters.

Consensus is Intelligent Demo Automation that scales your presales function.