The importance of a product champion

After a week on the road last week, this week turned out to a very interesting business week. It was interesting in that sense, as it helped me realize once more how important it is to have product champion(s) whenever you are looking to sell a product or service.

In this post I would like to go into further detail differentiating between the “general business angle” and “Sustainability / CSR angle”. The reason for this differentiation is simple: I sell an actual product with one business (PMM) and a consulting service (PB Consulting) with the other.

The general business angle

In my case am I trying to sell a specialty product that you need to see and use to fully understand. This week was an eye-opener for me as it showed me how much one person can influence the acceptance of your product with a large potential customer group. He turned into my product champion for this customer group and I will make sure I will provide him with all the support he needs from now on. These product champions are invaluable for every business as they are with more than gold in my view, in the short and long term. This is the classic example of a product champion in my view.

The Sustainability / CSR angle

A product champion, when taking the Sustainability / CSR angle, is quite different in many respects. Let me explain. The essence of the Sustainability / CSR consulting is that you provide someone or a business Sustainability / CSR specific advice. You as the expert provide advice based on your experience at previous jobs and assignments.

A product champion in this case then is someone that not only understands what you trying to say but (most importantly) someone that proactively challenges your point of view and experience. This might sound strange, but it in my view also makes a lot of sense when you look at what your ultimate goal: To change the way your client is doing business.

So have you tried to identify your Sustainability / CSR product champion already? He/she will be the key to growing your own consulting business in the short and long term. If you have not done this so far, why wait? Especially since your product champion might be the single most important person you need, to change the way they see their role in the business sector, how they conduct their business and what their next Sustainability / CSR actions will be.

My commitment to Sustainability / CSR: Version 2011

If you are regular follower of my blog you will have noticed that I have changed the direction of my professional career somewhat in 2011. I moved from exclusively working with topics of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into a more general business-type role next to my old role. Within in the new business my main purpose is to make a profit and far less how to make the world a better place using Sustainability / CSR as a business model. This is the reality.

The main reason for this move all centered around my responsibility towards my family and making sure that they are provided for as mentioned in previous posts over the past months.

The point of this post: 

So far the experience this year working in this new role has been quite a positive one I must admit. And this is surprising for me as well. I am a businessman by trade and that was my only experience before getting into the Sustainability / CSR business (if you discount flipping burgers at a famous fast food chain).

 So where does this leave me with my commitment to Sustainability / CSR you might ask? 

It is stronger than ever. This new found interest in business is, in some ways, extremely helpful. It helps me rediscover the main purpose of why I got into CSR / Sustainability in the first place.

For me Sustainability / CSR is an underlying view of how to conduct business in a responsible way. This is what I realized over the past months. The basics of making business remain the same. Each business needs to earn enough money to make ends meet. You need to know your product, your competitors, your own business (revenues, costs & rights), and (most importantly) your customer. These are the tools of your trade in my view.

But we also have a choice. The choice is to use these basic tools of your trade as responsible as possible in order to influence business best practice. I am doing my bit best I can, so what are you waiting for?