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Scott Peterson Peterson has dedicated his career to sales.

For nearly a decade now, he has helped executive leaders build high-performing sales teams of their own. He has expertise in refining sales strategy, defining sales processes, and aligning the sales structure. His business, Carver Peterson Consulting, works with growth-minded leaders of B2B technical and professional services firms to help them build and grow their businesses in a scalable way.

We caught up with Scott on a sunny Chicago afternoon, dashing between Zoom calls and client interviews, to get an inside scoop on the role of Human-Centered Design in strategic innovation. Here’s a summary of our conversation.

You take a personalized, process-driven approach to strategic consulting. What’s a recurring theme across all your work?

Every client is unique.

Even organizations that compete within the same industry and geography have carved out a path to success in unique ways. They have different origin stories, approaches, clients, and stakeholders' values to meet—all of that must be considered.

If I’m going to help a business refine its strategy and define its process, I need to understand its bright spots and bottlenecks. I.e., what got them to this point and what’s standing in the way of their progress. It’s important to understand the background and context.

Over the years, I’ve procured and developed custom frameworks that effectively integrate my client's unique strengths rather than trying to implement the latest sales methodology. help I’ve found that identifying and memorializing their uniqueness has helped them embrace and adopt lasting change and with much greater success

In your opinion, are all great entrepreneurs great leaders? What separates a successful leader from the pack?

I guess it depends on how you define “a great entrepreneur.”  I’ve seen plenty of entrepreneurs who have “successful” businesses by the traditional measurement standards—like revenue and profitability or headcount—but I wouldn’t refer to them as great leaders.

My definition of a great leader is somebody who:

  1. Has a vision of success
  2. Inspires others to join in the pursuit of that vision
  3. Helps others along that journey

The best leader I was privileged to work with was Burt Baptiste, my first manager. He was clear about what he was building & pursuing. He rallied the masses and connected people’s individual goals & aspirations within that vision. And, he helped people get there.

Burt pushed, pulled, challenged, invested, taught, and cared deeply about his people. More simply, he made the people around him better. Unfortunately, Burt passed away several years ago. He was really special and left a legacy of leaders as well as an amazing family

What’s the biggest challenge in tracking the success of strategic interventions?

Organizations are pursuing a lot of different objectives. Often, so many goals are being measured that when interacting with people on the ground level, you start to feel like “if everything is important, then nothing is.”

One of my company's guiding principles is to focus on what is most important. Our very first collaborative building session with a new client is defining the “Wildly Important Goal” (WIG) for their Sales Scoreboard. I use this WIG as the North Star from that point forward.

Ultimately, I aim to work out of a job with each client. Every session explores a different goal, and I’m proud of our transformative impact on so many organizations over the years.

You mention that “Selling is everyone’s job.” Can you elaborate on this?

Daniel Pink says it best in his book, To Sell is Human, “Selling isn’t limited to salespeople.” Everyone at a company is involved in sales in some way or another. Persuading and influencing others is part of all of our lives.

In my practice, I work with executives trying to win, retain, and grow more of the right clients. Often the biggest need, winning new clients, isn’t the sales team’s sole responsibility.

Consistent and significant growth requires people, not just salespeople, to influence and persuade others. I work hard to leverage and maximize the unique & collective strengths of the people within our clients.

Why are Human-Centered Design principles important to personalized strategic projects?

Every company is unique.

I’ve found that human-centered design can take these BIG, complex ideas and break them down into something simple and digestible using frameworks that are personalized to the user.

These visual tools have had a significant impact on my sales and change management approach. In many cases, various frameworks have helped my clients clearly “see” the problem before them and feel compelled to take action. Dan & Chip Heath refer to it as “tripping over the truth” in their book “The Power of Moments.”  Without the visual aspect, I’m not sure the idea or concept would’ve taken hold.