Context, as defined via Google, is:
- the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed; or
- the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.
How many of you base your observations, make your decisions and create input, throughput and output on a thorough understanding of Context?
Most of us react to what we see, hear, read or speak. We jump to conclusions. We form assumptions which are rooted in our own biases and baggage. We get down to doing way too quickly.
In other words, look before you leap. Catch yourself before you respond, decide and create based on what you think you heard.
What’s the saying? There’s more than meets the eye (and ear).
Context is the untold story behind Everything. If you take the time to determine the history surrounding why corporations and colleagues function and behave the way they do, you establish their Context.
Establishing Context gives you reason to pause before you rush into a customer with the latest marketing communications spiel.
Context provides you with the information that coaches you through business development and what’s really needed in preparing your responses for qualification and quote/bid.
Determining the situational context of your current and prospective customers takes time. If you are impatient to get the project off your desk or rush to make another lukewarm cold call to fill your quota, you are shortchanging yourself.
Context establishes you as a Business Person of Worth.
Identifying the offline, often historical, factors impacting the Buying Committee’s decision to purchase is Context. If you only are interacting with a single purchasing agent, you haven’t established context at all.
Determining the relevance of your solution to key corporate strategic priorities is Context. Otherwise the solutions you are proposing are low on the corporate totem pole.
Establishing the reason why your customer’s projects are approved but not funded is Context. Armed with that information, you won’t be as willing to offer up your expertise on non-billable time the next time their engineer calls you up to “kick the conceptual can.”
How many of you take the time to research Context before you provide solutions?
Incorporating Context as a variable into the business development equation can kick-start you to target the types of customers that you and your company are exquisitely well-suited for.
My advice: take the time to develop Context before you innovate, create, design and implement. This single action can save you rework and retooling down the road and enhance productivity and profitability long-term.
Frame the situation. That step allows you to frame your subsequent decisions and solutions.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a business coach and management consultant. Her Workshops create Playbooks for startups and small to mid-size companies who want to grow, expand and sustain their businesses, but wrestle with unpredictable revenue streams. Her Playbook on leadership, business development and collaboration strategies, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.