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Reframe your Executive Briefing Program as a Business Design Tool

Your Executive Briefing Program can – and should be – reframed as a key enabler of longer term customer-centered relationships and desired business outcomes.

First, let’s talk a little about design. It’s important. Hidden behind the simple expression, ‘well designed’, is an iterative process that allows for a flash of inspired thinking to be captured, defined, transformed and tested in a real world environment. There are five steps to the typical design process:

1.   Empathize: with customers, spend time walking in their shoes. Observe what is actually going on in their environment rather than just asking questions. Sometimes a client will lack the awareness needed to describe the problem.

2.   Define: start to give shape to the needs and challenges that you observe. Perhaps, you may help the customer reframe the challenge they are facing in order to help solve it. Successful definition enables measurement and measurement is where business outcomes begin to take shape.

3.   Prototype: begin to determine how we might improve outcomes with some rapid ‘prototyping’. This could be as simple as doing some sketches or running some rapid validation tests etc. The trick is to develop lightweight and quick examples that give a sense of how a desirable solution might look.

4.  Test: several prototypes later, it should be possible to develop and try out some proofs of concept. These tests will take the most feasible of the prototypes and check them for viability in test environments.

5.  Analyze: how did we do? At this point, we should have a strong sense of a business-viable solution for the customer’s need.

What we call ‘Business Design’ occurs when design processes like these are applied to business challenges.

What we call ‘Business Design’ occurs when design processes like these are applied to business challenges. We like to talk about Business Design in reference to Executive Briefing Programs because an Executive Briefing Program provides the opportunity for a company to engage with and observe a customer’s real world for up to eight hours a day. Imagine the opportunity that exists to empathize with a customer’s challenges and opportunities and engage in an exploration of their most inspired thinking, while also helping them to define – and even prototype – some emerging new ideas that help them accelerate and reframe their existing business opportunity.

In our experience, there are three major factors that prevent most Executive Briefing Programs from embracing these opportunities:

  1. EBC programs themselves suffer from a lack of definition within the enterprise. They are perceived as either marketing or sales tools and it is almost impossible to use today’s available toolsets to measure their impact on business outcomes or even just their ROI. You can’t measure something that’s not defined.
  2. Most large marketing organizations do not spend as much time observing customers in the field as they might. In fact, we would be so bold to suggest that the majority of marketing folks do not actually meet with customers. We’ve observed time and time again, that customers love to open up about their situation when given the opportunity in an EBC setting – but there’s nobody there except the sales team to take note.
  3. Most customers are invited to an EBC by the Sales team and Sales teams have clear responsibilities to ensure quarterly business outcomes. Earlier in my career I used to be frustrated when sales teams didn’t always seize on the opportunities we were beginning to reframe with customers. That’s not, however, the sales team’s primary objective. They have to hit that number.

So what this all means, is that there is a huge opportunity that goes begging with each customer engagement at an Executive Briefing Center.

An executive briefing is an opportunity to empathize with the customer at close quarters and begin to re-envision with them what the future could look like.

The EBC isn’t just an opportunity to close a deal or move a deal forward. It’s an opportunity to empathize with and observe the customer at close quarters; to begin to re-envision with them what the future could look like. The EBC is an opportunity to build human-relationships: people engaging directly with people, enabling 1:1 ‘permission-marketing’ on steroids and laying a long term road-map for account-based selling. Not to mention, building a needs-based value proposition for your company in helping your customer get to their newly envisioned future faster, along a growth curve they’ve never experienced before.

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