11/01/2010

By Ian Turner, Northern European General Manager at Nuance Communications,

I am in this article sharing my first-hand experience of a business that has to overcome deep-seated negative perceptions of a technology, in order to continue to succeed and grow.

There is no quick fix when it comes to overturning negative market perceptions, but there are various changes that can be executed quickly to ensure perceptions can be changed. Firstly, check to see if the market’s negative perception is actually correct & still relevant now. If so, move on! You need a base that you believe in. If you can’t truly believe a story yourself you will never be sufficiently convincing in a sustainable way to overcome that negative perception — even with masterful spin. In the medium term, or before, you will surely be found out.

Find real life business proof that the proposition worked, build a story from this success, solution sell with these references, even cross-vertical. Internally, “kill the non-believers”;….ok what I mean is build a team of evangelists, and rid your self of those that don’t believe it or don’t get it. You can’t convince others if you’re internally harbouring dissenting voices; they can be divisive and time consuming. When left unchecked they will be corrosive to your business & competitive spirit. Only those who are fully committed should be involved in design, development, sales and customer service. Tough decisive action; you don’t have time to convert your internal luddites and then work on your customers.

Never aspire to mediocrity. Wavering, average aspiration may put your project, and even the total business, at risk of never moving beyond mediocrity. Coming a close second is valueless. Finally, play your strongest hand — when talking to clients gather your disciples. Look within the company and among your existing customer base; use a mixture of client testimonials and in-house advocates, irrespective of their role. For example, I regularly bring our most knowledgeable engineers or developers into new prospect meetings. They are very persuasive promoters, in part because they are perceived as the honest brokers (relative to your sales team), and they take the exposition of offerings to a different level.

In this competitive market, your reputation is everything. If a business leader has faith in what their company is doing, and is backed by a unified team of passionately committed employees, the organization can combat negative perceptions and reinforce positive views. You can succeed.


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