Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's Not About You

Sometimes what we need most is the advice we give to others.

Over the years, I've counseled numerous individuals and companies on effective sales and marketing techniques.

A central theme is, "It's not about you." 

Meaning, if you want someone to see value in what you have to offer, they need to see the value for them.   Not how great you think you are or God help us, what year your company was founded, or some bulleted list of what you "do."

It's about taking the time to understand where your target is now, what motivates them, and where they need/want to be.  And then, very clearly connecting the dots between where they are now and that ideal point.   Done the right way, it should simply become obvious along the way that your amazing solution is exactly the right thing at the right time.

The last part about "connecting the dots" is crucial but often overlooked, especially when we're so excited to just jump to the TAH DAH!    We're already drinking the Kool Aid, but though our target now knows they are thirsty, they don't even have a glass.

So, why is that I could get some stranger to spend a million bucks on complex business services, but I couldn't get my own kids ready and out of the house on time in the morning??

Seriously.  The morning chaos was enough to turn me into a crazy person.  (No comments from the peanut gallery.)

At some point, it hit me.  I'd been making it about me.   How hard I work, how late I'm going to be, how I've already asked three times, and how annoyed I will get.  If someone...   doesn't... put... their... shoes... on... NOW.

Yes, my kids love me and they are polite, considerate kids overall.   But, at ages seven and twelve, it's so not about me; especially when it's early and they are tired and overwhelmed with starting the day.  If the TV is on or the IPod is in hand, forget it.  I may as well be talking to the wall.

So here's the new morning plan which seems to work much better:

When I wake them up (or get them started if they are already awake), I do so with verbal and physical kindness.  I focus on their feelings, i.e. comfy, tired, hungry, overwhelmed.    We sometimes forget what it's like to be a kid and all the things they worry about.    Taking just a couple extra minutes to overtly express the love and happiness they need can change the entire course of the day for everyone involved.

Then, I gain agreement on the ultimate goal:  To get out of the house at a specific time so that they can be on time for school, get to lockers, see friends, and generally feel good about starting the day right.  Again, it has to be about them.

I help connect the dots between where they are now and that goal of being on time for a happy day.  Simple steps:   1.Clothes  2.Breakfast  3.Teeth   4.Hair   5.Shoes   6.Coat  7.Bags 

When my daughter was younger, we actually had a "Get Up & Go" board which outlined these steps.  It worked really well; no idea why we stopped using it.

I'd like to say there's no TV or IPod in the morning but I've actually found it to be a good incentive.  Again, I'm thinking about what they value and using it towards the goal.  You could call it "playing dirty" but it works.  Humans by our very nature are motivational creatures. 

So... next time you are struggling with your powers of persuasion, personally or professionally, see how you can switch your positioning.  Make it about them and connect the dots.

Good luck!

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Sarah said...

And if everything else fails, a good spanking always works well, for Chinese parents anyway. Too bad this strategy can't be used on the customers.

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