Sales strategy

Larry Peterson lpasoc at
Sun Dec 20 13:23:04 PST 1998

There are some very clear outcomes to Open Space events that can be
anticipated. Depending on the theme, You will get good thinking and likely
breakthroughs on the theme, a report, a list of who is passionate about
what, often practical solutions, elements of a strategic plan, strategic
intent to implement, a new design.......You can identify many tangible
outcomes depending on theme, givens and parameters for action--with stories
of success at other places. You can also identify momentum, spirit,
commitment, new connection to the whole organization.....When it is the
right approach for the situation.!!!

If it fits what the sponsors want and the conditions then it does not need
to be "sold" much from my experience.


-----Original Message-----
From:   OSLIST [mailto:OSLIST at] On Behalf Of Denis Hitchens
Sent:   Sunday, December 20, 1998 2:39 AM
To:     OSLIST at
Subject:        Re: Sales strategy

>At 07:29 PM 12/16/1998 EST, you wrote:
>>Hello out there.  I must say that I am very excited about doing OST, but
>>running up a bit of a stumbling block right out of the chute.  I was
>>of doing a "demo" OST to potential clients, but after reading the warnings
>>the listserve to not do such a "foolish" thing, I'm left with puzzlement
>>how one goes about selling this thing to potential clients, without them
>>"tasting" it first.  It could be viewed as a bit of a "pig in a poke."
>>would really help me is suggestions from all of you about what works and
>>doesn't regarding selling an OST meeting to prospects who have never seen
>>a thing.  Looking forward to your response.  Thanks in advance.
>I have never tried to sell Open Space -- at least in my understanding of
>the word "sell." But I have absolutely no problem in telling folks what it
>can do. Specifically, you can promise, and deliver the following (in a 2
>and 1/2 day Open Space): 1) Every issue of concern to anybody will be on
>the table. 2) All issues will receive the discussion people care to give
>them. 3) A full report of those discussion will be available to all. 4)
>Priorities will be established identifying the "high energy issues." 5)
>Related issues will be converged. 6) Immediate "Next Steps" will be
>outlined and parceled out for implementation. That is a promise.
>But be prepared for plenty of skepticism. Every group that I have ever
>worked with always says in one way or another -- "It looks great, but it
>will never work with this group." Ultimately the folks will have to make
>their own decision. However, that decision can be helped a little bit by
>two things. Show them some examples of where it has been done, and those
>examples are multiple and public, including full page features in such
>radical publications as the New York Times. They still may not believe you,
>but at least they can't say it has never happened. The second thing is to
>keep your eye out for situations where Open Space is especially appropriate
>-- situations characterized by a) High levels of complexity in terms of
>issues. b) high levels of diversity in terms of the people involved, c)the
>presence of conflict. and d) a decision time of yesterday.
>And just remember, most people really don't care about the process -- they
>care about getting something done. So I avoid if at all possible any
>attempt to explain it, unless they really want to know. At that point, you
>might find my book "Expanding Our Now: The Story of Open Space" Helpful.
>Good luck h.
Harrison, just told us why he never sold any open space.  But at the same
time he is a heck of a salesman.

He told us the secret, which makes him hot  --  the customers wants an
outcome and is usually unimpressed by the process.  But that is only half of
it  --  the customer wants an outcome that offers some benefit to him/her !!
Most do not willingly pay to be harmed in some way.

And this is where Harrison the super star shines  --  he gets people to buy
even though they don't know that it won't necessarily not harm them.  (how
many negatives is that ??) Super.  I guess however there is some value in OS
providing customers with infomation of what might be harming their
businesses but that has not surfaced or the customers have not yet

John Naisbett in the original Megatrends (1983) said words to the effect:
"Even Ronald Reagan, both as B-movie cowboy and as President knew that it
was easier to ride the horse in the direction it wants to go".  Knowing that
direction is probably of considerable value especially if you think you want
to go in another direction.  And it could just be that OS will do just  that
for your would-be customers.

I guess if I would offer any advice it would be to discern some desired
beneficial outcomes and work on your 'open' manager in the vein of "well
you'll find out what is your likelihood of success", as the horse is bolting
and carrying you with it.

The list of 'promises' do not in themselves constitute beneficial outcomes,
though their content might.  Here we are faced with the important difference
between 'form' (or framework) and 'content'.  They do not tell you what the
real outcome will be and have very high potential to lead an organisation
far from its managers' strategic intent.

Taking one view that could be terrific because it might save the enterprise
from disastrous mistakes, but the other side is also possible.  The populist
approach has been shown often to be completely incorrect.

I share your concern with sales strategy

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