Roundtable Lessons: The role of critical thinking in marketing and sales – Varsity Branding

Scott Townsley from Trilogy Consulting knows a thing or two about critical thinking and he shared that knowledge with us recently as a Roundtable guest. In that appearance, Scott talked about how to look deeper and ask probing questions to uncover valuable and actionable insights in a presentation titled “Hero or Heretic: The Role of Critical Thinking in Marketing and Sales.” 

Here are a few key takeaways from that conversation: 


Critical thinkers ask probing questions, which can either make them heroes for uncovering important truths, or heretics for challenging group assumptions. Scott described critical thinking as the practice of asking important questions that others might be too hesitant to pose. This can lead to becoming a hero for addressing crucial issues. However, it also poses the risk of becoming a heretic, as critical thinkers may uncover answers that challenge the prevailing views of the group.


Scott emphasized the critical importance of understanding and utilizing data beyond occupancy rates for marketing and sales in organizations. He suggested that while occupancy is frequently discussed, other valuable data often goes underutilized. By questioning and analyzing this information, and sharing insights with others, organizations can move beyond short-term fixes and take significant steps to enhance the nonprofit senior living sector. 


Scott delved into actionable metrics and critical thinking regarding occupancy issues. He highlighted that simply attributing declining occupancy to performance overlooks deeper factors. By examining data, we learned that in one particular CCRC, vacancy rates are highest in smaller units and lowest in larger ones, a correlation often missed at the board level. This insight leads to the actionable conclusion that converting small units into larger ones is essential to address occupancy challenges effectively.


Critical thinking is the act of questioning assumptions and anticipating potential challenges to current advantages. Scott emphasized the discomfort inherent in challenging the status quo due to our natural confirmation bias. He advocated for seeking disconfirmation, acknowledging that what was once believed to be true may not hold under scrutiny. Actively seeking data is important and so is asking probing questions to uncover critical insights that can drive improvement in Life Plan Communities or senior living organizations. 

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