Gentle Offence


Three Keys of Selling Post COVID19

We are now just over a month into the physically distanced world of COVID19.  Having been ordered by public health officials to stay at least 6 feet apart has fundamentally changed the way society operates.  Chances are, we are not going back to the old handshake and cocktail party ways of selling any time soon.

As stock markets around the world reeled, non-essential businesses closed and upwards of a million people lost their jobs in Canada alone (hopefully only temporarily), the entire world went on defence.  We were told to stay home as much as possible, only go out for essential items and stop the spread so that health care workers could have a fighting chance at containing the virus.  Government stepped in with billions of dollars in financial relief for laid off workers and shuttered businesses while essential businesses like grocery stores increased wages and went on a hiring binge to meet demand.

Now, one month in, the tide is slowly starting to turn.  The rate of new infections is slowing, although not yet decreasing.  More and more people are recovering and we’re starting to get the hang of this physical distancing thing.  But there is a dark side too.  Homo Sapiens is a social animal and with governments telling us to expect the reopening of the economy to be a long and drawn out process, people are getting restless.  We aren’t there yet, a pick-up game of basketball, a round of golf or just rollerblading with your family in an abandoned parking lot will still get you a $750 (plus tax) fine.  Opening a non-essential business could cost you $10,000 per day in fines and up to a year in jail.

But the economy will re-open and we have to be ready for a very different world when it does.

This past week, during our weekly virtual team meeting one of the top salespeople in our organization used the term “Gentle Offence” to describe the way in which we will have to pivot our sales approach as a result of this pandemic.  I don’t know if he coined the phrase or had heard it somewhere else, but I thought it was brilliant as it perfectly articulates he way I think sales needs to evolve in the new world.

The way I see it Gentle Offence is just the compassionate and emotionally intelligent approach that people are going to need to hear from salespeople as we all recover from the mentally draining, and emotionally traumatic events of this pandemic.

Gentle Offence consists of three key elements.

1 – Know Your Moment

Now is not the time for a hard sell.  I would argue that there was never a good time for a hard sell but that’s just me.  But this is definitely not the time.

One major car company has been really good at this so far, pivoting their advertising to focus on saying thank you to health care and essential service workers and not mentioning any of their vehicles at all.  Some fast food restaurants have done the same.  You do not want to be the brand that was tone deaf to the cultural moment and continued pitching your non-essential product while people suffer.  Marie Antoinette did that, and it didn’t end well for her, don’t be like Marie Antoinette.

It is enough right now to express gratitude and offer support but do not pitch products.  People have long memories when it comes to how you make them feel.  In a sense we are in a collective state of worry and mourning, be a source of comfort and compassion not additional pressure to consume and perform, people will remember that and reward you for it later.

2 – Let The Client Lead

A good psychotherapist never tells a patient what to think, rather they help the patient interpret their thoughts and adjust their behaviours for a more consistent outcome.  In the post COVID world salespeople are going to need to become a bit more like psychotherapists helping their clients interpret and express their needs and find ways to better fulfill them.  If that means guiding potential clients away from your product or service, so be it, you can’t be all things for all people.  The job of the salesperson is to fulfill a need, not manufacture one.

Advertising was invented to create dissatisfaction with the status quo and manufacture desire.  This has led society in an unhealthy pursuit of materialism and created a world of interpersonal comparison termed “keeping up with the Joneses”.  COVID19 has reminded us that the Joneses are just as vulnerable as the rest of us and what we want and what we need are two very different things.

Letting the client lead means helping the client flesh out their needs and desires and providing solutions to their problems.  It takes patience, kindness, compassion and deep knowledge of the issues and potential solutions.

3 – Bring Your ‘A’ Game

If the new world is going to be all about compassion, empathy and sensitivity then closing the deal is going to require a lot more knowledge of both product and application.  The salesperson is going to need to be better prepared than ever before, know more about their product and understand more about how it addresses the client’s specific need.  It’s no longer going to be enough to pitch a product by focusing on features and benefits, you are going to have to paint a picture of life after the purchase that jives with the picture the client painted for you previously.  And you are going to have to do it better than anyone else.

 

So, there you have it.  I believe playing Gentle Offence is going to be the new way of selling post COVID19 and in many sectors it has already started.  It’s about compassion, empathy, wisdom, and situational understanding.  How do you think sales will change in the new world?  Send me your interpretation in the comments below.

Branding Lessons from the Lizard the Captain and the Man in the Blue Shirt


3 Lessons About Projecting The Right Image For Your Brand
The Geico Gecko

Would you buy car insurance from a wise cracking lizard with a British accent?  Warren Buffet bets you would, and millions of Americans do.

Would you book a vacation with an awkwardly blunt and slightly creepy man in a captain’s uniform?  Obviously, or Hotels.com wouldn’t have created the character of Captain Obvious.

More importantly, would you let a plain talking, slightly nerdy, triathlon enthusiast give you financial advice?  I sure hope so or I’m in the wrong business.

All those things form a brand image and for the past few days I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about mine.

The fact is that how people perceive you, IS your brand.  You can’t control what people think or how they react, but you can control what you show them.  In so doing you are projecting an image for  your brand and letting the customers do the rest.  The key to branding then is giving your customers just enough to point them in the direction you want them to go.  And then hoping they get there on their own.

Last week I watched a series of videos on branding from success mentor and productivity coach Darren Hardy. www.darrenhardy.com  I don’t know what Mr. Hardy actually calls himself but when I think of him three things immediately come time mind, success, productivity and a freshly pressed blue shirt.  Why?  Because he talks about those things constantly and he always wears an immaculately pressed blue shirt while doing it.

Darren Hardy, trade-mark blue shirt and all, teaching from his back yard

Through watching these videos, I learned three very important lessons about how to establish and reinforce a brand.

1 –  Perception is Reality

How people receive and interpret the brand is just as important as the message you are trying to convey.  Mr. Hardy wants you to think of success when you think of him, that’s why he wears that perfect blue shirt all the time.  Would you think of success if he showed up wearing a baseball cap and ripped T-Shirt?  The gecko that shills car insurance and the creepy captain who wants you to enjoy your vacation both say we’re approachable and fun.

2 – Pick a Single Word

It’s okay to have more than one word but by picking just one it’s easier to direct your efforts and point people in that direction.  Most successful brands can be reduced to just one or two words.  The more words you use the harder it’s going to be to project your image with any consistency.  Mr. Hardy’s word is success, at least that’s what he said in one of the videos and I can certainly see it but there’s some subtext there as well.  He mentors business owners for increased productivity, hiring the right people and product marketing to name just a few.  If he wanted to mentor you to be a great athlete or coach the baseball cap might be a better idea.  But everything he says and does points back to that one word because more than anything he wants you to think, if you want to be successful you should be listening to Darren Hardy.

Which brings me to the last lesson.

3 – Design everything to reinforce your word

Think about how your word shows up for a meeting, how it comes through in writing, in advertising, or on LinkedIn.  I’ve already pointed out how Mr. Hardy’s blue shirt speaks success.  How does the Geico Gecko say approachable?  How does Captain Obvious say fun?  Remember, I’m not saying that approachable and fun are the actual words the advertising departments used to create those ad campaigns, but perception is reality and that’s what I think of when I see them.

My main brand word is compassion.

I understand that financial planning can be confusing and scary for a lot of people, especially if you’ve been burned by bad decisions in the past.  When people think of me, I want them to think that I am the financial planner they can be authentic with and receive solid advice delivered in a straight-forward, non-judgmental and compassionate manner no matter their circumstances.

I’m still working on how best to convey that message across all my media platforms.  I hope it shines through in the way I write and speak most of all.  Life is hard and finances are complicated, if authentic and compassionate service is what you are looking for form your financial planner, I want to be that guy for you.

What’s your brand word and how do you reinforce it? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out the video I did on this same topic yesterday.

 

Blind Bart


 A Story of the Kind of Courage That Can Change the World

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. [Mark 10:46-52]

Recently I had the pleasure of hearing my good friend Mark preach a sermon on this passage.  Some of the points that he made during that sermon struck me in a new way.  I want to take a few minutes to parse them out and maybe give you a new way of reading this passage as well.

First a question – How do you see Jesus?

Bart was blind.  He couldn’t “see” Jesus at all.  As a result of time and distance neither can we.  But Bart knew that Jesus was near and that he had a reputation as being a merciful healer, so he cried out “have mercy on me.”

When he was rebuked and told to stay quiet he called out even louder.  Why?  Not only why did Bart persist but more importantly why did the disciples try and silence him in the first place?  He clearly needed healing, why put him down?

It’s disruptive when someone in need interrupts us from our agenda.  I get it, do we put people down because we are afraid of doing something wrong, being inconvenienced, or getting dirty?

Jean Vanier said –

“Fear is at the root of all forms of exclusion”

But Bart overcame that fear.  He was courageous in the face of ridicule.  He refused to be excluded based on his disability.

When he finally got the chance to speak to Jesus his request was simple and obvious.  “I want to see..”

In this context the request would have carried the double meaning.  Not only did Bart want to see, but he also desired to be seen by others. Those with disabilities in Jesus’ day where on the outside of everything.  The overriding cultural attitude was that their disability was the consequence of sin.  They were therefore excluded from all forms of community.  The fact the Jesus was willing to stop, see Bart for who he was, listen and act upon his request is all you need to know about how we are to view those around us who are on the outside.

We live a hurried existence.

Twice in the last few days I have had people comment about this hurried world by using the same expression.  They have said that it’s as if everyone is running around like their hair is on fire.  That is quite the mental image and I think it says a lot about the way too many of us our living our lives.  You can’t see anyone, understand their needs and serve them if you are preoccupied with a fire on your own head.

We need to stop.  Not just slow down but completely stop what we are doing.  Stop like Jesus stopped.  Stop and see the people around us, I mean really see them.  Stop and hear them and stop and know them.

Only when stop in this way will we be able to impact people’s lives and change the world.

What’s causing the fire on your head?  What do you wish people would see about you?

Anger, Compassion and Meekonomics


I think that revolutionary anger, like all anger, hides a deeper, slower sadness about the essential human condition, and it is through contemplation, not action, that we can come to terms with it.

Combat, territoriality, conflict, sickness, aging, dying: these are not foreign to human life, they are inescapable parts of it.  We are capable of evil as well as good; greed is in our nature along with altruism.

We cannot run from tragic aspects of ourselves; we can only conquer them by facing them squarely and incorporating them into our knowledge of ourselves as whole.

We must slow down.  We must move from our heads to an examination of our hearts.

The true revolution is an honest respect for the differences of others; forgiveness of their sins because their sins are ours.  We must, above all else learn compassion.

How can we learn compassion from anger?

Only through time.  Stephen Rechtschaffen, “Timeshifting; Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life”

I apologize for the long quote that opens this post.  I don’t often incorporate such large chunks of other people’s work within my own but Rechtschaffen’s comments on anger, violence and the root of conflict hold such profound truth that to edit them further would have been doing a grave injustice to both you the read and Mr. Rechtschaffen himself.

I also apologize for taking so much time in this space lately to pull things out of Rechtshaffen’s 1996 book on the spirituality of time.  This book obviously moved me in unexpected ways, this is the last post on it though, I promise.

The quote above comes toward the end of the work.  Rechtschaffen is beginning to sum up his theory on reclaiming time and he hits on what I think is a profound truth about conflict and anger that we all experience.  Anger, according the Rechtschaffen “hides a deeper, slower sadness”

How many times have you met an angry person and thought to yourself, “how sad?”

How sad that someone is harboring such negative emotions?  In many cases in my experience it has been obvious to everyone around that the angry person is really just masking and avoiding a deeper, more personal emotion.  It comes out as anger when they don’t want to appear weak or afraid but some form of pain or sadness is usually at the root of it.

I haven’t talked much about the core concepts of Meekonomics lately.  Mainly because I’ve been focusing on the latest round of edits in preparation for the release of the second edition coming this spring, but this latest reading has helped me refine another aspect of Meekonomics, namely; compassion and understanding.

To be truly meek you cannot be sad or angry.  As I have defined it many times meekness is a willing submission of power in order to achieve a greater good.  To be meek you must set aside your own agenda and work with people of various backgrounds and opinions.  In order to do that you must come to terms with your own anger, inner sadness and conflicts.  In my book I call it the Love Mentality which is only achieved when we understand and conquer our innate Ruler and Caretaker Mentalities.

Rechtschaffen rightly states that in order to integrate our internal conflicts into a functioning whole we must slow down.  We must be willing to experience our emotions in order to work through our internal conflicts.  Don’t fight them, don’t rush past them – meditate on them.

Meditation is not to be confused with dwelling on your emotions however.  Dwelling on your emotions is to simply repeat over and over that you feel a certain way until it wells up in you and you explode in a burst of violence or collapse into a deep depression.  Mediating on your emotions on the other hand tends to be a much deeper experience.  Mediation goes beyond the mere feeling and asks the question, Why?.

It is not until we stare into the why of a feeling that we can move from our heads to our hearts and are truly able to learn from the experience.  Meekonomics theorizes that when we learn that on an international, macro-economic scale, we can change the world!

For more information on the general theory of Meekonomics write to: themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or buy the book “Meekonomics; Kingdom Economics from a Love Based Mentality” here or from Amazon.

The Best Form of Government


It has been said that Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.  – Winston Churchill

So one of my best and oldest friends called me out this week on something I tweeted regarding the new Pope. 

So far I’ve been pretty impressed with the way Pope Francis has gone about starting his reign.  He has shunned some of the more extravagant trappings of the job and repeatedly spoken about compassion for the poor.  Even the name he chose, Francis I, points to the more humble and compassionate direction it appears he intends to take the church. 

All this remains to be seen of course but it’s a confident beginning. 

My friend, a devote atheist, pointed out however that we have spend that last few centuries trying to rid the world of dictators and yet the Catholic Church still allows for the appointment of, what amounts to, a life-long dictator.  He put it a bit more colorfully than that, but you get gist.

That got me thinking, what’s wrong with dictatorships anyway and was Winston Churchill right or wrong when he said that democracy is essentially the best option we have?

Over the last few years, while I’ve worked on this blog and the accompanying book I’ve come to believe that not only was Churchill wrong, but that democracy is by its very nature governing from a point of weakness.  That leaves us with the uncomfortable reality that the “best” form of government is actually a Benevolent Dictatorship. 

Here me out…

Most Historians and Anthropologists agree that ancient tribal societies were far more egalitarian and peaceful than anything we have today.  The evidence points to these societies having been organized around a patriarch and a council of elders that ruled with impunity and little regard for public opinion.  At the end of the day they were a family that respected the leadership of their collective father.  And it was the father’s duty to lead from the front lines and make sure that everyone’s needs were met.  That is what the Catholic Church was originally designed to represent and indeed that’s why priests are called Father. 

Now as any parent knows, families are decidedly not democracies, at least not functional ones.  How messed up would that be if every time little Johnny misbehaved his punishment had to be put to a vote? 

Granted history also shows that truly benevolent dictatorships are few and far between, and the Catholic Church has been among the worst offenders.  But the fact that benevolent dictatorships get corrupted and oppressive has very little to do with any fundamental flaw in the design and more to do with human nature and lust for power.  In most cases Democracy is just as corrupt, especially when things are done in secret so as not to jeopardize the chances of re-election. 

I expand more on this idea in Chapter 5 and elsewhere in the book “Meekonomics; How to Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest under God’s Economy” for an advanced copy email me directly at:  themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com

As always your comments are welcome below.