Thursday, February 25, 2010

You gotta bridge the gap

People have needs and desires only when they are not being met. When you go into a store to buy something you are at one point but want to be at another point, thus a gap. Well the other night I gave a speech at St. Petersburg Toastmasters and went over salesmanship aspects such as actually listening to the customer’s needs and developing solutions to meet their needs. You know, things that salespeople should actually do instead of focusing on what they want? In any transaction there is a provider (salesperson, service or whatever) and a customer (basically anyone getting something from someone else). Why is there such a gap between what the provider gives out and what the customer wants? I used an illustration from Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Selling. On the first page, there is an image of a salesman calling a business prospect and trying to sell him something using this logic:
If you buy from me, I’ll make a lot of money.
When I spend that money, the economy will grow.
When the economy grows, you’ll get more customers.
My greed is the best thing that could happen to you!
Now that's logic! This guy needs to run for office if he's not already in Washington by now... Well, that disconnect reminded me of a story I heard when I worked at Westinghouse, The Breakfast Food Cooker:
Once upon a time, in a kingdom not far from here, a king summoned two of his advisors to test them. He showed them both a shiny metal box, with two slots in the top, a control knob, and a lever. He asked his advisors, "What do you think this is?"

One advisor, who happened to be an engineer, answered first. "It is a toaster," he said. The king asked, "How would you design an embedded computer for it?"...
The long and short of it is that one solution to the king's question was answered in about 100 words and would take a week. The other solution was answered in over five hundred words and would take months if not years! Click the The Breakfast Food Cooker link to read the whole story. It's funny if you're an engineer! Tee hee... Anyway, the king wanted a toaster but one of the advisors thought
"What you see before you is really a Breakfast Food Cooker. As the subjects of your kingdom become more sophisticated, they will demand more capability. They will need a Breakfast Food Cooker that can also cook sausage, fry bacon..."
and on it goes. All of this stems from not understanding what the other person wants. Stephen Covey said to "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Just keeping that little idea in the forefront of your mind can make a huge difference in how other people deal with you and make your life a whole lot easier.

Mike Snyder

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We never grow in comfort

As Steven Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "A need satisfied, no longer motivates". My sister asked me one time why I liked to run. I said "Because it feels soooo good when I stop!" Of course then she asked why I didn't just hit my hand with a hammer a few times so it would feel good when I stopped. Then I wouldn't spend so much time running and have to buy expensive running shoes. Guess that makes sense economically...

Anyone who says that they feel great before, during and after running (or any exercise) is either lying or a masochist! But the truth is that if we are in comfort all the time, there is no motivation to grow. You get stronger physically when you exercise and you grow as a person when you move outside your comfort zone. Haven't we all see this in our own lives and those of others? I started running not because my couch was so uncomfortable, but because I felt a need for more. But I didn't get up off the couch and start running until that need was greater than the pleasure of just sitting on the couch. Once the need to do something more was greater than the comfort, I was no longer satisfied and pursued something different. Getting involved with a great bunch of runners and helping to start the TATUR running club was an outstanding move which I will be glad I did when I'm old and gray(er).

The same thing goes for my joining the St. Petersburg Toastmaster club. I not only found a way to help me work on overcoming my stage-fright but again, met some wonderful people who I'll be friends with for a very long time. As with running, I didn't take any action until the discomfort (of having to periodically speak in front of people) exceeded my comfort (of not doing anything about it).

"Ok, Mr. wise guy," you say, "so we need to be uncomfortable ALL the time?" Of course not. But when you think back on your life and look at the times you have progressed most spiritually, intellectually, physically, and emotionally, weren't these times when you weren't completely comfy? That's not to say EVERY time you are out of your comfort zone, you are going to come away with a life-changing lesson. If you think that, you are really spinning your wheels. I've found that people with that kind of attitude also want a "Guarantee" before they try something. My thought on that is simple: If you want a guarantee, go buy a new washer. Quit wasting time looking for them and take the chances which can change your life.

One of my FAVORITE quotes is from Theodore Roosevelt:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Now go out and do great things.