I recently met with a prospect and we had a lively and productive exchange about his marketing and sales goals and objectives. When I am conducting such due diligence, it is interesting to see if the prospect is looking for new ideas or is more eager to gain affirmation for what he has already implemented.
In this case, I was encouraged because the prospect was self-aware, open-minded and collaborative.
Things were shaping up well until he said, “Let me show you our presentation package …it’s the best in the industry.” Out came the package, which he had obviously thrown his heart into, and which he presented to me like a proud father.
He then asked expectantly…“What do you think?”
You can guess the outcome. The presentation materials were average at best and actually, in my opinion, put his company at a competitive disadvantage.
I was able to work through the awkward moment diplomatically, but my point here is, how did it come to this?
How could something this fundamental, this basic and this important manage to be developed and implemented, and how could such a smart person be so far off the mark? The answer is perfectly illustrated in the classic fable, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Somehow, this particular presentation material became personalized, and when something becomes personalized, employees and colleagues are often loath to give us their honest opinions about them, fearing retribution or an unpleasant emotional backlash.
Like the emperor whose ego was so intimidating that his subjects would not save him from the ultimate embarrassment, my prospect’s company had been featuring this presentation for years, much to his personal satisfaction, even as it lowered the chances of success.
Studies show that each of us represents, at best, one eighth of the population in terms of our likes and dislikes, and those tendencies can be sliced and diced much further as well.
To presume that our opinion is dead-on and the only one that counts is a one-way ticket to marketing and sales failure.
We can never afford to fall in love with our own stuff …we must constantly ask others for their opinions, encourage and welcome their input and never, ever stop honing our selling and communications processes.