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How I Ended Up in Selling Disruption

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

“We have found that companies need to speak a common language because some of the suggested ways to harness disruptive innovation are seemingly counterintuitive. If companies don't have that common language, it is hard for them to come to consensus on a counterintuitive course of action.”

Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma

I started my sales career 1987 as a Sales Trainee at NCR, a company founded already 1884 as a manufacturer of mechanical cash registers. Since the 1950s NCR producced computers and by the time I joined they sold HW/SW solutions to Laggard SMBs and open systems (UNIX and Intel/Microsoft) to large Early Majority enterprises.

I clearly preferred the interaction with Early Majority customers and when I joined EDS in 1994 to sell full-scope outsourcing contracts the market had just moved into this stage. My next job in 1997 took me into open systems-based SW (ERP) for a pre-IPO start up (QAD) straight into the tornado fanned by the Y2K issue everybody was facing regardless of industry and company size before I took over leadership positions in two pre-IPO start-ups selling to Innovators and Early Adopters.

At EDS I was trained by Holden Corporation in “Power Base Selling” and at QAD I came across Adizes’ “Corporate Lifecycles”and Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm”. Suddenly, the ambiguity I was struggling with in complex sales cycles cleared and these three concepts laid the foundation for my approach to Disruption Selling I honed during my 7.5-year stint as a co-founder of a partnership specialized in consulting for business development.

The model provides a holistic view on the organizations of the vendor, the customer and the competitors and helps translating it into actionable items driving a disruptive innovation through the adoption lifecycle.

Over 10 years I practiced the model at Amazon Web Services (AWS) starting as a one-man show as the first Enterprise Account Manager in Germany with 30 accounts and ending with just one of them as a Global Account Director leading a global team of more than 30 members and revenues in the triple digit millions.

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