I had the recent pleasure of interviewing Emissary CEO David Hammer in Jinfo, an information industry trade publication. Topics included tacit knowledge, working with their Emissaries, and how they identify Emissaries. I profiled their offering back in November when they launched the service.
Emissary provides a concierge service for enterprise sales reps. Emissaries are former employees of companies, generally high-level execs that departed the firm in the past 18 months. Emissaries provide access to a great deal of tacit knowledge that isn’t available on the open web. This would include informal reporting structures, executive biases, language, culture, and purchasing processes. According to Hammer:
Tacit knowledge is what we all acquire in the day-to-day of living our lives. It’s what we know simply from interacting with the world. People don’t know what they know. I worked at Google for six years but it would take me a lifetime to document every useful thing I learned there, even assuming I wanted to. And that’s assuming I know what’s actually useful! There are plenty of things I wouldn’t even think of that would be transformatively powerful to someone else. I just don’t know what, and I don’t know who it’s useful to.
Tacit knowledge can be both big and small items that provide an edge when selling. Again, Hammer:
It can be an emissary pointing out that the pitch deck for an upcoming meeting uses the word “customers” when the internal culture always refers to customers as “guest”. It can be sharing a past mistake that cost the company $500,000 that your product would have prevented. It can be telling you the CEO has a pet project to address educating millennials and informing you exactly how to tie your product to that messaging, or that the decision-maker actually cares more about ease of implementation than the direct ROI.
Unfortunately, Jinfo is a subscription service and the article is behind their firewall. Hopefully, you have a subscription. If not, reach out to me and I’ll send you a copy from their platform.