Sales

The Intrapreneurial Mindset: It Starts with Insight

Who knows where the next good idea may come from?

Who knows where the next good idea may come from?

Last week I wrote about the rare and valuable intrapreneurial sales professional. One of the defining features of ISPs is their ability to generate insights and capture new value. Just like entrepreneurs, the first quality that most people think of when they describe them is their ability to generate good ideas, maybe because they see things that others don’t.

In the next article of this series, we will see that the ability to think of good ideas may be the least important factor in intrapreneurial success, but you do have to start somewhere; you can’t grow a tree without a seed.

So, how does the would-be intrapreneur find ideas?

Salespeople are in a great strategic position to know what’s going on outside and inside their own companies. On the outside, they spot ideas by being creatively dissatisfied with the status quo, or productively paranoid, if you will; by listening closely to customers without relying entirely on what they say they want and need; by constantly asking questions such as these:

  • What else can we do for the customer?
  • How can we improve the results they get from doing business with us?
  • How can we improve their experience of doing business with us?
  • What could cause us to lose this critical account?
  • Why are we not doing business with customer X?
  • If we lost this customer today, what would we have to change to get them back?
  • Why do we do things this way?
  • Why don‘t we do things that way?
  • If I got a job with our biggest competitor, how would I steal this account?

But of course customers are not the only source of valuable ideas, which is why successful intrapreneurs also stick their noses into areas within their own company where they don’t belong. They find out what’s going on in R&D and Marketing and anywhere else there might be good ideas. They’re the ones who seem to know everyone else in the company and they seem to be the first to know the latest gossip and major news before it’s officially announced.

Finally, since one of the best ways to generate new thinking is to connect ideas from unrelated fields, intrapreneurs are curious about everything else outside their own and customer’s circles. They read widely, talk to a lot of different people, and pay attention to the world around them, to the economy, and to their own industry.

In short, sales intrapreneurs are curious, imaginative, and paranoid. But that’s just a start, as we’ll see in the next article in this series.

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April 30, 2012
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