Friday, February 18, 2011

Are we approaching potential buyers the right way?

Do we entice people to buy on our terms or theirs?

Imagine yourself out in the ocean, just off the coast and you are going to fish for salmon.  The sky is blue with a few white clouds and the sun is just appearing over the horizon warming the air.  The boat is rising and dropping in a slow methodical slide over the series of endless water swells.  You feel fantastic; the air is crisp and fresh.  You take a deep breath and exhale salt air.  It is the perfect day for fishing. 

You arrived at your fishing spot, just turned off the engine, and listen to the seagulls, the light wind, and the splashes of sea chickens diving for a meal and surfacing for air.  You see ball of herring breaking the glass like water resembling rain drops.

Suddenly, your heart begins to pound faster and harder seeing the big ball of herring. Finding bait fish is always exciting because where there are bait fish, there are salmon.

Quickly, you reach below in rushing to get your fishing rod out of the storage area, hook it together, put on the flasher and a hook at the end of the line.  Next, you reach into your cooler, grab a cold beer, hang it on the fish hook, and put the beer baited hook into the water waiting in anticipation that soon you be fighting a 20 pound salmon on the end of your line.

How many fish will you catch today?  You are seriously delusional if you think you’ll catch a fish in this fashion.

It sounds silly doesn’t it?  No fish is going to bite a hook baited with a can of beer—of course not.

However, as silly as that sounds, it is exactly what we do when we are trying to persuade our friends, sell our products, motivate our employees, convince an organization to hire us, get our children to do what we want, etc

We tell our friends why we should go out for Chinese food because “I haven’t been to a good Chinese restaurant in a long time”—beer can on a hook. 

“I think you should buy this product because we are trying to lower our inventory and having a big inventory reduction sale”—beer on a hook.

“Do your job and do it right because my tail is on the line and I don’t want the boss yelling at me”—beer on a hook.

“You should hire me because I am good, I need a job, and I have bills to pay”—beer on a hook.

“Clean up your room, my friends will come over here and think I don’t teach my kids to clean up after themselves”—beer on a hook.

Fish won’t bite my beer baited hook because they can’t open the can and probably would not like what’s in it.  In order to catch fish, I’ve got to put myself in its shoes—I know fish don’t have shoes; it’s a figure of speech—and try to imagine what the fish want.  They want herring, or squid, or a worm, or a fly to eat.  I don’t know what they want to eat that day so when one bait doesn’t work, I try the nother.

We can all remember this when trying to convince people to do what we want.  We must find out what others want first and make sure they get it. 

Empathy is a wonderful thing; we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and try to see the world from her/his viewpoint.  If we can combine empathy with a good dose of humility, then we can persuade our friends, sell our products, motivate our employees, get that dream job, and even get our children to clean up their rooms.

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