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The Illusion of Control

by Hank Barnes  |  October 2, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

It’s great to be in control.   It creates more confidence and comfort.   But in B2B situations, control is rarely achievable.   There are too many people involved in buying and implementation.  There are too many sources of information.   The idea of the buying journey, and efforts to create journey maps, imply an expectation of control.

But it is all an illusion.  Particularly when the real buying process looks like organized chaos.

Long Hard Slog

Once you recognize that control,  at least total control, is an illusion, you can start to change.   Even though Gartner recommends, as part of the Challenger methodology that sellers teach, tailor, and take control, the reality is that this can only be done in small chunks.

You can “take control” by guiding your customers on a better path, but then they will be on their own.  Part of taking control is helping them in situations where you are not around–managing through the chaos.  Expose, and connect, prospects to their peers that are your customers and influencers that they trust.  You won’t be able to control those conversations, but you are giving those prospects what they need–unfiltered information.

Several years ago, Gartner said “Influence scales, Control does not.”   I loved that line then and I love it now.   Rather than strive for control, strive for consistent influence.  Connect with other influencers and help manage the chaos.  Spend more time understanding the customer situation than trying to control it.

Moments of control are effective, but they are just moments.   Beware the illusion or the quest for (total) control.   It may be impossible to achieve.

Learn more about the new world of selling, marketing, and B2B buying at the Gartner Sales and Marketing Conference–next week in Vegas.

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: challenger  control  strategy  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

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