Business Growth Newsletter #211 – Value Origin, Fear, Book Report

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • Forget what you think is valuable because it only matters what your prospect measures as valuable. There’s a report somewhere in their organization with a number which means a lot to them. Ask about it.
  • True, your prospects might say there’s more than one metric or key performance indicator to focus on, but press them to prioritize. Sometimes it helps to ask them for the company metric, their division metric, and their personal metric.
  • The people we’re selling to are incredibly busy and especially distracted. You may be similarly busy and distracted yourself. Knowing this, block out time for idleness and focus. As Dean Robinson says, decluttering and getting absorbed lets us “invest more by investing less.”
  • Once you’ve identified the metric your prospects are focusing on, ask how they’ll know they’re making progress. Buyers love to buy outcomes but lose track of time. Talking through leading indicators helps everyone stay on track.

Being Human – On fear

“There are many things that motivate us. But the most powerful motivator of all is fear.” – R. Wilson


Marketers have long known that while economists maintain decisions are rational and logical, the best way to motivate someone to take action is with fear. Dr. Robert Cialdini identified six factors influence is based on: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. Each one of these six is amplified by fear. For instance, reciprocity is amplified by receiving multiple favors in quick succession and I fear falling behind and owing you too much, so I take action. Commitment and consistency is amplified the more I defend a position because I’m afraid of the consequences if I go back on my word, so I stick to my path, cost be damned. Social proof is amplified the more I get scared of going against the crowd, etc. My point is, fear is super powerful.

Knowing this, you’d think I’d recommend applying fear as a tactic in sales situations. I don’t recommend it as a primary tool, but I’m happy to have it as an option. Let me explain. Fear, like many motivation tactics, works because it’s a tension builder. Tension is exhausting and looks for a release. Fear’s antidote is doubt and it kills any motivation fear creates. Like the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “Chicken Little,” fear may get us going but once doubt creeps in, motivation goes away.

Instead, I recommend you focus on removing doubt in order to build momentum, and only use fear when your prospect identifies it and asks for verification.

How is it done? In both instances you’re looking for evidence. Remove doubt with evidence. Confirm fear with evidence. Get good at helping your prospects find evidence. If it helps, I think of evidence as coming in four flavors: no evidence, soft evidence, hard evidence, and strongly correlated 3rd party evidence. Help your prospects identify evidence supporting their doubts or fears.

Next week, look for instances of marketers applying fear to motivate, toss some doubt in, then note what happens. It’s powerful stuff once you recognize it, just like knowing Cialdini’s principles of influence. Good stuff.

Random stuff

“In labouring to be concise, I become obscure.” – Horace


Short book reports

Sometimes when I need to sit and write, I sit and read. (well, most of the time. . .) Here’s a baker’s dozen from my last few months of book writing procrastination, in no particular order:

Liars Poker — Michael Lewis: I missed this the first time around but it holds up over time and it’s lessons, unfortunately, are still waiting for resolution.

Talking to Strangers — Malcolm Gladwell: I read it, loved the re-framing experience, then listened to the audio book which I can say is even better.

The Circle — Dave Eggers: I missed this one the first time around too but it’s creepy how much his fictional worldview gets right and I love a good distressing conclusion.

A Legacy of Spies — John LeCarré: The king of cold war spy novels brings the events from his old books into the present and knocked me out, again.

The Rooster Bar — John Grisham: John is pissed about private equity backed for-profit schools working the margins of the system and hey, a great Mad Gringo story results.

They Call Me Supermensch — Shep Gordon: The power of vision combined with the high reward entertainment industry almost had me wanting to buy a hot tub. (almost)

The Incomplete Book of Running — Peter Sagal: I picked it up because I heard it was getting readers to lace up the shoes and run again but after laughing and nodding my head, I’m still a slug.

Mind In Motion — Barbara Tversky: There are so many great insights in this academic read and the one I’ll leave you with is the importance of movement in memory which you should incorporate into training right now.

Acid for the Children — Flea: A tale of a young man living free on the streets of L.A. which left me thankful for my mountain town upbringing but wondering, like Shep Gordon’s book, how I’d end up if I spent my time in a different location.

Beastie Boys Book — Diamond and Horovitz: Another head scratcher about location and circumstance with pages and pages making up what I consider the world’s greatest Spotify playlists which you should put on shuffle right now.

The Wizard and the Prophet — Charles Mann: We saw him speak on this book tour and it’s a fun framework to apply to all sorts of binary thinking.

1493 — Charles Mann: After we saw Mr. Mann, I bought all his books and read 1491, which was riveting, then jumped into this one which tilts the camera frame yet again.

The Startup Owner’s Manual — Steve Blank, Bob Dorf: I have been a fan of Steve Blank for years but never got around to reading his book until I used it for a class I taught and again, the book beats the movie.


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