“Servant selling.” It sounds like an oxymoron. Isn’t the goal of every business to make money? To increase the lifetime value of a client (to my firm)? Last week, my post demonstrated how there’s scientific support behind this notion of servant selling. Clearly, this concept undercuts the conventional wisdom of focusing on revenue optimization in both business and capital markets. This week, I’ll walk you through another doorway that leads to a room bigger than just your customer: a better world.
Consider the emotional wreckage after a phone call or face to face meeting where you heard yet another discouraging word: no. After a “selling conversation”—especially if it’s one in which we lost a deal—it’s most common to ask ourselves questions or give ourselves pep talks such as:
- What did I do well?
- What could I have done better?
- Did I get a referral out of that meeting?
- It’s one more no on the way to a yes.
- I just have to play the numbers game.
What if we instead asked a servant selling, client-centered question like Daniel Pink asks:
When your interaction is over, will the world be a better place than when you began?
Most of us keep an unconscious scorecard of what we’ve done for “the other guy.” And of course we usually feel we’ve given more, that the world owes us something, that our Life Balance Sheet has too many ARs. But what if we were to “act as if the other guy is doing [us] a favor?” And do this every time?
What if you were to treat “the other guy” as if s/he is your grandmother? How about if your “grandma” had 80,000 Twitter followers?
Would you still…
- say the same things as you sell her a used car?
- have the attitude of not leaving money on the table?
- look for opportunities to upsell?
Or, would you instead focus on questions like:
- How does she feel in this interaction?
- Did she feel respected?
- Did I give her something valuable through this experience?
- Was this conversation a good use of her time?
To hear or give a no answer can be a very good response, as I’ve learned in recent years. If my goal is to serve that other person, there is a potential for me to always succeed. Her no becomes my yes if she (“the other guy”) benefits as a result of the interaction! Suppose my goal is to “make the world a better place” and I give her something of value–something solid to react to that leads to her no. From this lucid interaction she will gain increased clarity about her business.
Conversely, if my goal is to convince “the other guys” to somehow do what they don’t want to do, to arm-twist them into submission, my yes could, in fact, be a no! This kind of yes diminishes the good in the world. If my goal is actually to catalyze them to do what they know is in their best interest, either their no OR their yes is ultimately a win-win. The “other guys” know they have permission to say no or yes. I win either way. And this interaction leaves the world a better place.
Next time: In this Pollyanna world, how do I avoid giving away too much when I hear lots of no’s?
What is one way you might apply this principle to work with your clients?