I’ve recently read some well intentioned advice from mentors, coaches, experts and gurus who have all come from similar positions.
They are hired to go into organisations and advice buisness owners on what they need to do to take their company to the next level in whatever skill set that may be. I saw one consultant offering advice to a marketing executive who was trying to convince his MD about the value of marketing. It read:
“…….ask him where he spends his money: whose shirt is he wearing, which car does he drive, who does he bank with, which airline does he use, which is his favourite restaurant, which phone is in his pocket, which gym he goes to, what laptop does he use and so on.
Then ask him why, and if he says anything like I feel good in them, it’s cool, it’s convenient, it’s cheap or luxury, the people are friendly, the product does what it’s supposed to, I keep going back there because they know me – that’s all Marketing.
If that doesn’t work, ask him where next year’s new and returning customers are going to come from if there’s no communication outwards or brand building, no understanding of what value you’re offering at what price, no product innovation and no understanding of what it’s really like being a customer”
This was painful to read.
Imagine if you were the MD receiving these questions from a marketing executive who is basically calling you an idiot.
So, why is this approach so ineffective? It starts from the position that you are right and he is wrong about how to run his business.
And no one likes to be told they are wrong. But everyone does have self doubt on something in their lives. It’s natural. It’s what keeps us moving forward trying to find ways to improve and be more efficient.
How can we reposition this that will be eloquent?
FIrst off we need to start from the position that they are fine as they are, in whatever they are doing. They do not need to do anything to their business if they do not wish to.
Everything in the world has a cause and effect. If you do X then Y will happen. If you do nothing then Z will happen.
If the MD decides to invest in marketing (X) then sales / brand awareness / customer loyalty etc (Y) will increase. If the MD does not decide to invest in marketing then it is possible that you will lose sales, brand awareness will decrease, customer loyalty will fade (Z).
As soon as you become emotionally attached to the situation your judgement becomes clouded and the most effective action to achieve the goal may not be pursued.
With the example above, what was particularly interesting was that the conversation was about what the marketing executive wanted to do – not what the business needed or wanted to do.
If you were the MD how would you feel?
I emailed the maketing executive separately to give some caution to the “well intentioned” advice from the “expert” to consider his approach to influencing a a senior executive. Watch this space.
For more non positional influencing strategies I recommend I’m Ok, You’re Ok by Thomas Harris available at amazon.com