I'm standing in the low ceilinged, dimly lit, stuffy-aired classroom of a driving school -- a company owned by brave souls who make a living teaching 16year olds to drive dangerous objects. My daughter is taking her road test with a State Police officer, her last step before qualifying for her license. I'm waiting, idly watching the TV in the far corner of the classroom.

The movie, Shrek II, is playing.  While I haven’t followed the story line very closely, there is a moment in which Shrek-the-green changes into Shrek-handsome-human. Instantly, several young women appear, pushing each other out of the way to gain his attention.  They were ATTRACTED to him by his size, good looks, and witty tongue. (This was, after all, a CARTOON movie.) Shrek seemed unaffected by this. (This REALLY was a cartoon movie.)

This story would have played out very differently if Shrek, upon assuming human form, immediately chased the women. The scene would have degenerated into the usual Thursday night at most singles bars. “Hey, ladies, va-va-voom, come along, you’ll have really good time with me,”  yes?

Most prospecting, in its current form, is a variation of this Thursday night singles bar “me push.”  We sales people launch ourselves at prospects with snappy chatter, hoping we can overcome prospects’ resistance or their impossible schedules, thinking that, if prospects would just invest a few minutes, they would understand how wonderful we sellers are and how powerful our products. High frustration. Low success rates. At the singles bars, too.

What would we do differently if we changed the prospecting paradigm from “push” to “attract?”

Attraction involves appealing to natural interest or emotion, arousing hope or desire, or lighting a spark of possibility.

In the “attraction” paradigm, prospects and customers want us to talk to them and be part of their work because they see or experience that we have an insight, an expertise, or an energy they want. (That’d be some Thursday night at the bar, eh?)

How do we convey this? Following the Shrek model, we substitute other characteristics for his.

First, we become resources. When we network, we figure out what is challenging our conversation partners and we find people in our companies or our networks, articles or other resources that can help them. We become known as providers, interested in helping everyone more successful.

Second, we position ourselves as experts in addressing our clients’ problems and complaints. We develop more and broader knowledge about their challenges and potential solutions than they have. We share this perspective by writing, speaking at business or community events, and developing and sharing best practices and success stories. We give away some of our value in the form of articles, podcasts, stories, best practices, network connections, and advice without asking anything in return at the time.

Third, remembering Shrek, we do all of this as if it’s not a big deal. We can’t feel or be “needy.”  Needy is NOT attractive. [Refer back to Thursday nights, above.] Instead, we engage our prospects, draw them out, and warm them up with Shrek’s easy nonchalance that communicates confidence (remember, we are experts), “whole-ness,” and the ability to engage peer to peer.

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