The Monarch’s Path (Issue 826)

In which we are reminded that, since few buyers really like to be “sold” anything, we can’t look like we’re selling.

Butterfly museums are places of quiet awe, places to be entranced by the variety and beauty of butterfly shapes and colors, places to slow down and reflect (unless you’re under 10 years old). I’ve visited three – Westford, Massachusetts; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Tiverton, Rhode Island.

One of the most amazing, awe-inspiring stories is the Monarch butterfly’s. Every year, in February and March, Monarchs begin a four generation, three thousand mile cycle. They emerge from hibernation in Southern California and Central Mexico to find mates. They then migrate north and east, laying their eggs in March and April in places like Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama.

That second generation of monarch butterflies is born in May and June and they, too, migrate north and east to lay eggs. The third generation will be born in July and August and lay eggs that hatch into the fourth generation in September and October. By that point, the butterflies have migrated more than 1500 miles into northern New England, the upper Mid-West, and the Pacific Northwest.

Unlike the previous three generations, butterflies in this fourth generation do not die after two to six weeks. Instead, they fly ALL THE WAY back to Mexico and Southern California and live for six to eight months until it is time to start the whole process over again.

So, from the Monarch, we learn that it takes multiple campaigns over periods of months, planting seeds along the way, to crack major accounts or cover large territories.  Good lesson.

However, the best butterfly museum lesson came in Tiverton, Rhode Island, in the smallest and most rustic of the three butterfly museums,  as we watched a soft-spoken 18 year old intern, Trevor, working with evolving groups of jiggy third and fourth graders.  For several minutes at a time, he presented a butterfly and told stories about its life span, wing colors, feeding habits, and migrations. The kids were transfixed.  And then they’d  bound away to explore on their own before surrounding him again for another story.

We asked him, afterwards, “How do you do that? How do you keep their attention?”

Smiling, he said, “The key to teaching them is to teach without making it look like you’re teaching.”  Even better!

Since few buyers like to be “sold” anything yet they’re hungry to learn, swap “selling” for the first “teaching” and we have the idea.  “The key to selling is to teach without making it look like we’re teaching.”


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