If you have not read my previous post, in this two-part story I am summarising the behaviours which make a career in commercial propositions and how to make it enjoyable. All of these are transferable, non unique to any profession, neither to a business vertical and their versatility should encourage more professionals to consider a career in propositions.
So, which are the remaining six behaviours?
In commercial propositions, you sometimes find proposing not only new products or services, but also entirely new ways of doing business which require a leap of imagination by many other people in your organisation. For this, you need to think bold and not fear the scepticism of colleagues who would say ‘We tried this before…’ or ‘You have to be more careful…’. If you have the facts that prove you are on the right path, do not get distracted by the nay-sayers. Being creative does not mean inventing something earth shattering, but solving a problem in a novel way and in an efficient manner.
Bold and convincing interaction
Every proposition professional is an owner – he or she believes in the opportunity from Day 1, has the facts to defend it, and the skills to relate the proposition to a wider audience in the company, across teams, roles and hierarchies. One of my colleagues calls this ‘telling the story with clarity and passion’ and adapting it for the different audience. Negotiation skills are often cited in job descriptions but while you will never be expected to negotiate a peace treaty, you are expected to be good at telling the story of your proposition convincingly and align people behind your thinking.
Notice I do not say ‘commercial skills’. In my book, commercial acumen is not a given, nor a birth right. It is nurtured and encouraged, but the basic prerequisite is to be very comfortable with numbers. By this I mean the quickness of wit as well as understanding of how a basic business case works in order to enable decision making. You should enjoy the level of detail which business cases bring because you are most likely to be the only person in the room with the numbers. And behind every winning proposition, there is a thorough business case with many scenarios which explore future outcomes. The numbers will make you very convincing when it comes to telling the story (see the previous tip). Which brings me to the next skill…
The commercial side of propositions is about generating options or hypotheses and knowing how to gather evidence and analyse it. Your excellence shines through analysing those options to discard all weak ones, summarising those that remain well and supporting a final recommendation. It is a process that you apply to every commercial decision – no matter how trivial or impactful. Being able to defend your thinking with strong analysis of the available options is invaluable skill across many professions, but certainly it is essential in propositions development.
Ability to make things real
This is the part which in my opinion requires most tenacity and resilience both in big and small companies. This is the part where your idea is picked up by others who will help you turn it into something real. And your role is to ensure that your original idea and the customer experience behind it stay the same in the finished product. This means working with Design and Product teams to turn your proposition into a solution story that reflect your requirements, but also be flexible when issues are identified and need a resolution.
Last but not least, which is my tenth behaviour? I would say Passion, as it wraps all other nine behaviours in it.
If you work in commercial propositions, I am very interested to hear your views on what makes you tick in this area. Feel free to comment on this post or send me your ideas.