Through the years I’ve found that folks are almost always more engaged doing assigned tasks when they understand not only what they are being asked to do, but why they are being asked to do it.
That seems like a pretty basic tenet, but it’s one we seem to forget from time to time.
A column I read this week by Bruce Webster used an old phrase that I’ve mentioned in presentations before that got me reflecting upon one of the "why's" of what we do.
He spoke of the emergence of a “preference cascade” among citizens regarding a certain subject.
He defines a preference cascade generally as “A discovery among your peers that it’s OK to feel or believe a certain way.”
The theory is that folks will often have certain thoughts or feelings about a matter but will not speak up or act upon them until they sense they are not alone in those thoughts or feelings. The status quo tends to hold.
But once enough other people begin verbalizing similar preferences and/or taking action, they are emboldened to speak up or act out as well. Others then observe them and do the same.
A cascading effect, so to speak, takes over.
I’ve had hundreds of mid-level managers smile dismissively when I’ve gotten on a soap box about simple traffic-generating things like giving away cookies, or having games, contests, registrations, etc. at branches.
That stuff is cute, right? But it’s not really “sales focused”, is it?
It’s not simply about using those opportunities to chat with customers (although that in itself is a big deal). It’s also about optics.
It’s about creating the visual that many other folks (peers) enjoy interacting with the team members of that particular branch.
It shows they, too, can be comfortable enough to approach and interact with us. And if you throw in generous amounts of smiles, laughs, and lively chatter, the marketing message delivered can be more powerful than any “official” marketing piece.
We things called “humans” are a funny bunch. We pride ourselves on being individuals.
But more times than we may care to admit, we seek to validate our thoughts and actions by observing others.
Why do we do these seemingly “trivial” little things? Because the visuals they create have real impact.
What are you doing to develop a preference cascade of folks interacting with your team today?
It would be hard for me to remember how many hundreds or thousands of times over the past two decades that I’ve observed salespeople attempting to strike up conversations with passersby. And sure, most of these observations were made within grocery stores.
But I had the opportunity last week to make observations from a slightly more scenic setting. My wife and I were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in Key West. (Every 10 years, we return to where we honeymooned loooong ago.)
I played the “anniversary card” with the front desk personnel to get upgraded to a room with a balcony right above Duval Street. After a nice day about town, we sat on the balcony, appreciating the evening scenery.
Truth be told, it wasn’t I who introduced the mystery shopping element to the evening. It was my wife who asked, “Have you been noticing that salon across the street?”
When I said that I hadn’t, she told me, “That young lady is incredible at getting people to step into the store. The two other guys are pretty useless.”
So I made a point to pay attention for a little while to these folks. Both young men were out of central casting.
They were two good looking, well dressed guys.
But their approach to striking up a conversation with passersby is what I normally refer to as the “cell phone salesman in the mall” approach. Samples in hand, they practically chased customers as most sped their pace to get away from the "sales zone."
I even observed a few folks cross the street before getting to them to avoid the sales pitch.
As the young lady would finish speaking with a customer, she would walk out and simply smile at folks. I could see she especially like complimenting people’s shoes, clothing, and jewelry.
Time and again, she would engage customers in front of her store, and most would soon be trying lotions or makeup. Several walked out with purchases.
All the while, her two co-workers were either in conversation with each other as folks walked by them or practically chasing folks down the sidewalk.
The person who paid compliments and made the conversations about the customer always seemed to have a customer to chat with. The stalk-and-sell guys never did.
Which will you be today?