There was a phase, and a rather happy one at that, in my life when my birthday celebrations included watching the latest Nolan film in the theatre. It started with The Dark Knight, continued to TDKR and perhaps fittingly, ended with Inception. Then life, as they say, happened and we all woke up.
For the record, I slept off while watching Interstellar (it had been a long long day), watched Dunkirk on a 14” Think-pad (marriage) and never got around to Tenet (kids). With it being birthday season again, I figured I’d give the old Nolan tradition a go. This time with a twist.
In my previous life as a value seller, there were 2 core beliefs I liked to share around what constituted an effective business case or investment thesis: first that it was less, if at all, about the numbers. Customers are more than adept at doing the maths. What was key was the correct framing of the value drivers, predicated on the right understanding and discovery of the unique business challenges that the customer was facing. If you could identify the right challenges and from them, the value drivers that really mattered and could be impacted, that was half the battle won.
Business Case Core Belief #1:The key is the correct framing of the value drivers, predicated on the right understanding and discovery of the unique business challenges that the customer is facing.
The second was that the business case had to be co-created with the customer, not crafted in isolation. “I can probably create an 80% correct version of a business case by using the annual report of any public company…,” I would often joke with my sales colleagues, “…but it will just get thrown in our collective faces if we try to shove it down our customer’s throats.” The thesis has to be the customer’s; a good selling team’s job is just facilitating that process.
Business Case Core Belief #2:The business case has to be co-created with the customer so it is the customer's.
For a long time, I thought this was a pretty crisp and concise way of putting it, and went on feeling quietly smug like the way we all often do when we solve the morning’s Wordle in 3 tries or less but don’t like to admit it.
Some time afterwards…
Then I joined Cuvama and met Jack Liu, CEO of ProCARE, who summarized: “I don’t see our sales team’s job as selling value; rather I want us to incept that particular notion of value in the customer’s mind. That’s what I want to use Cuvama for.”
I have never been able to articulately describe what being hit with brilliance is like. That guttural sound I make when Federer hits an impossible backhand winner is perhaps the closest I get. In Jack’s case, it was a “thank you- that was a wonderful way of putting it”, while mentally kicking myself for never having thought of it myself. Being shown up is undoubtedly a character-building experience; one just doesn’t enjoy it as much as one should.
Reverence for Nolan aside, the other reason I particularly liked this analogy was because of another piece of brilliance that I had been hit with in my past life. This time by one of the greatest sales leaders I have had the pleasure of working with: “I want my sales team to be Dreamers. As leaders, as extended team members, and as the responsible voices of reason influencing our forecasting, we can be pragmatic and find a hundred reasons why a deal may not happen. But pragmatism didn’t give us 25%+ CAGR on a multi-billion ARR base all of these years.”
Cobb sums up the sentiment quite well as: They say we only use a fraction of our brain’s true potential. Now that’s when we’re awake. When we’re asleep (read: when we dream), we can do almost anything.
And that, dear readers, is why we built Cuvama. So that the dreamers among us can incept the idea of value “fully formed – fully understood – that sticks”, right in the customer’s mind.
Personal conclusion:We built Cuvama so that the dreamers among us can incept the idea of value “fully formed - fully understood - that sticks”, right in the customer’s mind.
For those of you wondering what happened to Jack: his team of brilliant dreamers at ProCARE, led by the incomparable John Hancock, have implemented Cuvama in, till date, record time and are well progressed on their inception journey.
We’d love for you to dream with us as well. Let Cuvama be your Morpheus.
Take my hand.
We’re off to never-never land.