Does Your Prospect Yearn To Make A Difference?

On a longhaul flight I often enjoy listening to the on-board spoken word offerings.

There’s pleasure in unearthing a hidden gem when, inexplicably, there’s no Bruce Willis movie to be found.

So I was intrigued to uncover an ‘essay’ by a founder of SAS. A huge software analytics firm. One where, according to CEO himself, Jim Goodnight, they’d developed 36 products earning beyond $100m in sales, and 4 with over a billion dollars to their name.

The topic was on how to retain employees. Given that SAS has at one time been lauded as the best place to work in corporate America, and I myself had such a wonderful time in the self-same industr for many a glorious year, I thought this’d be worth my ear.

(Read/watch it for yourself; value your creative capital)

Unfortunately, Jim’s oratory skills are clearly not as pronounced as his coding. Dour delivery was matched by equally ineffective essay styling. His so-called essay was akin to reading out presentation notes. And from a slidedeck strewn with long-winded bullets. Not a picture in sight.

This would have been so easy to remedy. He wanted to get across his three main points that frame his approach to employee retention. So a genuine piece of captivating storytelling was surely in there. Somewhere.

Still, struggling to keep the eyelids open aside, I liked the point that he claimed his “above-average employee-retention rate” meant annual savings on recruitment and training were an impressive $100m. Although you do wonder how such a perfectly round number can really be true.

In the light of recent revelations to my eyes that Google – supposedly the place to work – out of the entire Fortune 500 comes in at 4th worst for retention (and with Amazon an incredible 2nd), I was reminded of the launch blitz for Malcolm Gladwell’s latest tome.

In essence, he believes you’re more likely to drop out of uni if you go to a top one. It appears so because the expectation on you as one of the elite is so great, when you come bottom of the class at a place of high renown it hits you hardest.

And so perhaps it also goes at a company perceived as only taking on the crème.

There’s an interesting angle here for Sales teams that set themselves apart as world-leading. I’ve never (repeat, never – even at tearaway market-leading organisations) seen a sales room with everyone above quota. Yet I can easily see a problem with those “merely” at 100%, when plenty of others are way higher.

Nice problem to have, you might think. Not much sympathy for that scenario, I feel.

Still, one of Dr Goodnight’s three pillars was spot on;

if you treat people like they make a difference, then they will make a difference

Jim certainly pushes an open door here with me.

I naturally turned to selling.

Whilst we are not necessarily trying to “empower” our prospects, we invariably do want them to ‘make a difference’.

To make the change required to accept our proposal usually means this is the case.

Do we know what “difference” they can make. Indeed, want to make?

When we tap into this (and show that uniquely, we can provide it) we prevail.

So if they’re not bothered about making a difference, then perhaps that should be one less waste of time account on your forecast.

“how you wanna make a difference on this?”

A simple, yet clearly powerful question, in the mould of the classic solution-style personal and professional win ones.

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