Change Leadership Secret – 71 – Change The Rules

Change Leadership — Secret # 71
Change The Rules

The time to win a fight is before it starts.
—Frederick W. Lewis

What I Need to Know

Economists use a term called BATNA, which stands for the “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” The notion is that if the customer has a better alternative he is going to take the alternative. So your proposal has to be at least as attractive as the customer’s next best option. How is BATNA related to mining for value? It determines how much of the gold you get to keep.

You can make your proposal more attractive than the BATNA by changing the rules of the competition.

Traditional Rules

  • Who has the best price?
  • Who has the best solution?
  • Who has the most benefits?
  • Who generates the most business results?

Change Leadership Rules

  • Who can best help the client respond to the forces of change?
  • Who can best help the client reach a new destination in her life space?
  • Who can create the most self-aligned value for the client?


Playing the change leadership game enables you to become a strategic resource for which your client will find few alternatives.

What I Need to Do

First, make sure you are following all of Sun Tzu’s guidance for engaging opponents. For example, Sun
Tzu says, if you and your competitor are equally strong and play by the same rules, you will win some of the time. Increase your wins and your revenues by playing to your competitor’s flank (i.e., areas of weakness, whether lack of focus, resources, skill, etc.).

Second, work with the customer to identify, quantify, and verify the business results generated by your proposed change.

Then, eliminate your competition by changing the rules and delivering more value.

Be “at the top of your game” by playing at the top of the Value Hierarchy and delivering strategic and self-aligned value.

Lock out your competitor by consistently delivering high value and increasing your customer’s dependence on you as a strategic resource.

Action Summary

  • Understand the rules your competitors are playing by—then, play by different rules.
  • Deliver verifiable business results, but don’t stop there.
  • Deliver strategic and self-aligned value.
Change Leadership Secret - 71 Change The Rules
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About Brett Clay

Clay is the author of “Selling Change,” named the best business book and best sales book of 2010, and is the CEO of Change Leadership Group, LLC, a firm that helps clients improve their sales, marketing, and leadership capabilities. A veteran of 20 years in international sales and marketing management, most recently with Microsoft Corporation, he is an award-winning author, award-winning marketer, trainer, speaker, consultant, and business leader.

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