I find it fascinating how often life gives you a reminder to practice what you preach. I like to think that we at Digital Leadership Associates are pretty good at taking our own medicine – we blog at least once per day, we are extremely active on social channels, we have great personal brands and profiles and, with a certain pride I can say we are very good presenters and speakers. We are really focussed on leading by example in everything we do…but…
Tim and I were in Singapore a few weeks ago on business and we had loads of really interesting meetings. One of them was a slap in the face, a wake-up call. Now, if you have ever done business in Singapore you will know that the Singaporeans are “forthright” kind of people, they are courteous and kind but they are working in a very busy city and they don’t have much time.
We go to see a very senior individual at a large company and they say “so tell me about your business, what do you do…” so we begin and after a minute they cut across and say “I’m not listening, you’re boring me”…which in 30+ years of business has never happened before. Then they started asking questions in “quick fire” and hardly waiting fr the response before asking the next. “Intimidating” is the word that comes to mind.
In further discussion we asked why they weren’t listening to us and what had we done wrong?
Then this person noticeably softened and said “I haven’t listned to a word you said because you told me the what, but not the why. What is your purpose.” So we told them…and they smiled and said “Now I like you. Even when people ask you a question, they may not really be asking for the answer you’re giving.”
The point of this story is that in Singapore, because business is conducted in a very straightforward way, we were given honest feedback and were able to then have another go at making a first impression. That doesn’t happen very often.
We are all guilty of behaving in the same way when we’re in front of customers – telling the customer what we want them to know rather than what the customer needs/wants to hear. We all run-though our presentations. We all boast about our achievements and facts. We all extols the virtues of our company – we’re the best, we have the happiest customers, this chart shows we’re the market leader. Perhaps none of this really maters.
So, my question to you is, are you really watching the customer’s reaction to what you’re saying. Are you giving them the “reason” to listen to your presentation or are you just going through the motions. Facts are all well and god but selling to the heart is much more powerful than selling to the head. Think about whether what you do, say and write clearly articulates what your purpose is as Simon Sinek would say “find your why”
Anyway, since being given a rare second chance to make a first impression this person has become a friend to us and has been incredibly helpful to us getting a toe-hold in Singapore. So thank you…you know who you are!
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