Be a Troublemaker and Increase Your Sales

Published on May 9, 2017

What if question on napkinThis past Friday I had the privilege of attending my daughter’s graduation from Northeastern University where CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour spoke to the graduates. In her commencement address she quoted a civil rights activist who once said, “Give good trouble,” and implored the graduates to “make a hell of a lot of good trouble.”

In sales, you’re causing good trouble when you don’t allow your customers to settle for the status quo. When you motivate them to think outside the box and see that there is a better way to do something and better results they can achieve, that is causing good trouble.

As a Sales and Leadership expert, I’ll tell you that good trouble is exactly how you make some critical sales. If you are going to replace a potential customer’s 30-year vendor relationship, you are going to push aside that relationship by causing good trouble. If you are going to persuade a customer to change processes and try a new technology, you are only going to do that by causing good trouble. If you are charging higher prices and disrupting budgets because your value equation demands it, you are causing good trouble.

How, specifically, do you cause good trouble?  It is not by lecturing your customers or boring them to death with the details.  It is by asking them questions about the what ifs:  What if there is a better result out there?  What if there is a better way to do this?  What are you looking to achieve that you are not realizing right now?  What results do you wish you could get but you’re not seeing?

The gap between where a customer wants to go and where they are now is your opportunity to cause good trouble and create the value proposition that they’re missing. And when you successfully do this—even though you are causing a disruption—they will value and appreciate your efforts by giving you their business.

So be brave, as Christiane Amanpour implored my daughter’s graduating class. The big commissions do not go to those who play it safe. They go to those who take risks and “make a hell of a lot of good trouble.”