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The Little Prince: Yet Another Business Lesson

I love the Little Prince from Antoine De Saint-Exupery: it is a great business handbook for beginners. Sounds silly? Let’s take this example:

“If you tell grown-ups, ‘I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves at the roof…,’ they won’t be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, ‘I saw a house worth a thousand francs.’ Then they exclaim, ‘What a pretty house!”

The message seems to be, how dumb we, grown-ups are. Yet – I believe – it goes beyond that.

We had to replace once all the headsets at a customer call center. It took some time finalizing the negotiations by getting nice percentages. But ultimately, we sold the project based on the features such as durability and noise cancellation.

By coincidence, the devices arrived the same day as the call center manager was replaced. Quite soon, I was sitting with the new manager, explaining him all about the nice technical features that his predecessor was so adored about.

But he was still unhappy. I didn’t know what to do.

Yet – also by coincidence – the previous evening I read for my kids exactly the same part I’ve mentioned in the beginning, from the Little Prince: “You have to tell them, ‘I saw a house worth a thousand francs.”

- We had 35 % discount – so I said unexpectedly.

A few seconds silence followed. Then the new call center manager just nodded in appreciation and turned to the text page in his notes. The case was closed with success.

I just needed to express the values in terms of his value expectation: and that was it. For his predecessor, those were the technical features. For him it was the price.

No matter if you sell a service or a product. No matter if you are an internal IT service provider or an external vendor. The stakeholder- and customer analysis, and the correct value proposition will do the trick.

Yet Another Business Lesson from the Little Prince.

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