Not Aligned (Issue 425)

On the Fourth of July, there is no other city on the planet in which I'd rather be than Boston. Yesterday, sun and warmer temperatures broke a long string of foggy, misty, cool spring days and the city came alive. We met people from Portugal, Russia, and a dozen U.S. states as we participated in the celebrations.

The jewel in the Boston July 4th crown is the Boston Pops Esplanade concert which includes cannon-punctuated performance of the 1812 Overture and magnificent fireworks (and this, from a guy who isn’t big on fireworks).

Just one problem during the fireworks: The pre-recorded sound track that, in the words of one viewer, “… had country music, really old c***, and, seriously, music from GREASE …!”  [The offending song was “Tell Me More”]

What’s the connection between soaring Fourth of July fireworks and a song about making out? (Careful… don’t look too deeply there.) To my ears, the music was disconnected, off the July 4th purpose. I tuned it out.

This mismatch appears in sales calls, when, for example, a seller proclaims, “we’re a consultative, relationship -oriented company” and then (choose one or more of the following):

  • sends periodic emails to the effect: “I just wanted to tell you we have announced some great prices on Product X.”
  • responds to a prospect’s complaint, saying, “Oh, we have a great product that will take care of that, no problem,” before understanding or validating the business need (i.e. the company’s objectives, the importance of the problem, the cost of the current scenario or the potential value of a solution, etc.)
  • responds to a prospect’s question about the seller’s company with “this is what we have” (“we work with companies just like yours… we offer product X, and product Y, and product Z…”)

In these and many other sales settings, music and fireworks don’t match. Sometimes differences are obvious (see above) and sometimes subtle – a voice tone, a word choice. The impact is the same… prospects or customers are NOT singing, “tell me more, tell me more.” They are tuning us out.

THE WAY BACK. Ask someone to check you out during sales calls. Are your messages and your actions aligned? This is one of those deals that’s very hard to correct in oneself. It’s much easier to see in others.

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