Some time back, I wrote this article for the Persuasion 101 newsletter. I’d like to re-post it here, as it hits on one of the key points in NLP the way I apply it to my life and work. It refers to a study I read in the Gallup Management Journal. The article follows:
Back in the day, serving a customer meant making the best product and delivering it on time. If you built a better mousetrap, they said, the world would beat a path to your door. But according to Gallup’s research, customers now assume “product parity”. In plain English, that means that if I need a widget, and if I’m no expert in widgets, I’m going to go to the widget store believing that no matter what brand of widget I buy, it will do what a widget is supposed to do. When it comes to serving the customer, giving them what they want when you say you’ll give it to them doesn’t score any points anymore. It only keeps us from losing the points they assume we already have.
Now, if I make widgets, this complicates my life. It means that no matter how good my widgets are — even if they’re the best widgets on the planet — customers won’t see that as a reason to buy mine.
OK… NOW what do we do?
Fortunately for us, there are businesses that know what to do, and we can learn from them. Gallup reports that the businesses that are able to persuade people to buy their products are doing two more things.
These super-salespeople are partnering with their customers to help them to solve their current problems. For example: People who develop medicine work on a scale too small to see with the unaided eye. When it comes time for them to explain what they’re doing, they can’t exactly point to it. So they start verbally describing it, and most people just glaze over. A friend of mine, who is a physician, a computer geek, and an artist, saw this problem and decided to solve it by creating a company which does beautiful, medically-accurate animation for biotechnologists. Now, when someone says to a biotech scientist, “Gee, can you draw me a picture?”, that scientist can call Animedix.
These super-salespeople are also educating their customers to help them grow and thrive. The founder of National Cash Register, for example, when it was still a brand-new company, used to help prospective customers with cash registers from competing companies. He’d teach them how to use and repair his competitors’ products. When someone asked him why he did this, he told them that it made the whole pie bigger, and when the pie got bigger, his piece of it naturally got bigger as a result.
Although we aren’t professional salespeople, we can learn a lot from these attitudes. We can’t get by on just being a good husband or good wife or good employee anymore, because everyone assumes “product parity”. If they aren’t happy with you, they’ll find another one. It’s time to look at our relationships with those we love and care about and, within our relationships to them, help them to solve their problems and help them learn and grow and thrive.
Think of it. I’m sure there’s at least one thing you’d rather not do. And I’m equally sure that there’s at least one person in your life for whom you would do it if they just asked. What is it about that person? What do they do for you that you would do that for them? And wouldn’t you like to be that kind of person for the significant people in your life?
How many ways can you develop to help those you love to solve their problems and grow and thrive? Have fun with it.
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