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

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