The first words you’ll find on our company website are: Scene Change is probably the wrong AV company for you.
What the hell? What sort of doomed-to-fail sales pitch is that? Back to that shortly.
But first let’s talk about an unattractive trait in people: neediness. The constant wheedling for attention and reassurance at all times, both personal and digital. The insecure attention seeking. The social stalking and accidental liking of ancient posts. The ring-fencing of old friends.
The clingier you get, the more it drives people away. People want to choose to be around you, not feel you’re constantly trying to ensnare them.
Same for your business life. And your brand.
Confidence attracts people, and that becomes a positive cycle as your business grows.
Please Like Me
A lot of sales and marketing activity is based on the mindset of:
“oh my God I hope they like me I’d better try really hard to impress them, gotta throw everything I got into this one, please like me.”
Neediness is driven by underlying fear, of the sales manager or investors or whatever ogres are lurking above you in the corporate tree. Customers can sense it. And they think: here’s someone fearful who I can bargain down like some souvenir stall.
Neediness manifests itself all through some businesses. Like in all those not-very-believable “We Do It All!” claims. And in relentless message pestering. Let’s pick on one offender because I feel like doing that.
Open Table: Your Constant Unwanted Dinner Companion
We went out to dinner on Friday night. The restaurant uses OpenTable for bookings. The day before, an email and a text to confirm the booking. Sure, better safe than sorry. Then, literally as we checked into the restaurant, this ‘seated confirmation’:
What psycho stalker CX designer thinks it would be handy to email me, the live-eye reporter at the actual scene of the dinner, to let me know where I am? “We hope you enjoyed your dining experience”. No you emailed me at 6.58pm before I was even sitting down, stop it.
And next morning the obligatory needy satisfaction survey. I’ve written that story before in You Overestimate Your Relationship With Me.
It’s like they had a meeting and said:
You know when you go to restaurants and the eager waiter comes up during your first mouthful and asks how’s your meal, then does it another three times? How can we create that feeling digitally?
And I don’t even have the app. Honestly I wouldn’t have been surprised to go into the bathroom and get a text reminder from OpenTable, triggered by some geotracker or bathroom beacon, reminding me to wash my hands and rate the cleanliness.
Neediness is everywhere. I feel it in my inbox full of ‘pleeeeaaase vote for us in the industry popularity contest’. It’s in corporate brands’ Friday “yo whassup for the weekend” post, desperate to appease the boss with a better click graph.
Have Some Confidence In Yourself
This is not the behavior of companies that are confident in their product. Psychologists will tell you neediness is an attempt to take back the power you don’t have.
There are armies of smart, accomplished people getting cool stuff done and you don’t know about them because they’re secure enough not to post their every move. I really recommend this Tom Goodwin piece If You’re An Influencer You’re Probably Not Influential – “it’s not the frequent flyers who are posting their first-class lounge check in”.
So how do you look confident instead of needy? That’s an entire book right there, and this is not the place to come for valid-but-boring tips about posture and eye contact.
Also, confidence is about feeling secure in yourself, so it shouldn’t just be about putting on a thin visual veneer. How do you be confident?
A few random observations that might be useful.
1. Talk Less
Who’s in charge of the meeting? The person who asks the questions. You say less, but it creates the vibe that everyone around the table is responding to you. Your questions create the agenda.
This has been a vital technique since ol’ thought-disrupter Socrates was laying down the basic truths on persuasion.
2. Go The Opposite Of Industry Conventions
A guy I know who does sports promotional stuff deliberately has no business cards, because they make you look like you need the business.
People ask him for a card. He tells them he doesn’t have them because he’s kinda busy and only deals with a limited group of clients. That only makes them want his details more. At that point he pulls out some scrap of paper, handwrites his phone number on it, and tells them: don’t lose this, you won’t find me on the web either.
It won’t work for selling enterprise software but for him, the conversion rate is off the dial and it keeps tyre kickers away. What can you do to break the needy sales patter pattern?
3. Be Generous About Your Competitors
You probably have internal meetings where you all talk about how stupid and incompetent your competitors are.
Point A: it’s probably not true.
Point B: do not let that vibe come across in your discussions with customers or anyone else, it makes you look like some small-time grifter. It’s counter-intuititive but talking generously about your competitors makes you look secure in your own abilities.
4. Admitting To Weakness Makes Your Strengths … Stronger
This blog is among the worst places to come for useful advice on social media trends, influencer marketing, online retail, cryptocurrency, corporate governance and on #crushingit in general. I have no knowledge in those areas and if people ask me for advice on those I say: I don’t know, not my topic, ask an expert.
Being open about that gives you more specialist cred when you’re talking things you do know.
5. If You Don’t Understand, Speak Up
In lots of meetings someone will be projecting plans on a screen that don’t make much sense and nobody speaks up because they don’t want to seem like the stupid one. Speak up. Especially if you’re in a senior role in the meeting.
Say: “I’m sorry, I really don’t understand that last point, can you go back over that again?”
Nobody else understood it either, so now you’re a spokesperson and leader for the whole group. Asking the ‘stupid’ questions is an essential confidence-builder move.
So How Does Scene Change Have Any Customers?
Oh yeah that “probably the wrong AV company for you” line.
We realised that about 80% of events are organised by someone for their boss, as part of a long to-do list, and they do it once or twice a year max.
About 20% are arranged by professional event managers and producers, who are doing events every month. That’s our heartland. Those industry producers hold us to tougher standards than the executive assistants, and they understand those standards cost a little more.
The executive assistants will always get four quotes, and we will never be the cheapest. And that’s cool. We’re OK with only working with 20% of the market. So basic probability says we’re the wrong supplier in most cases.
We spoke before about self-selecting writing in job ads a few weeks back. Same thing here. The 20% feels better about us because we’re all about their needs.
But here’s a bonus: it’s like the nightclub you can’t get into, it makes some people desperate to get in. Some of the 80% read it and think: I want the supplier that industry professionals use. So those people come to us without the expectation we’ll be the cheapest as well.
It saves us and customers lots of time and unnecessary meetings. Weaponized honesty is an an underrated and enjoyable business tool, give it a shot some time.
Motivation For Sceptics is also the wrong website for people who want to be not only #crushingit but seen to be #crushingit, if you’ve read this far that’s probably not you though so if you want articles like this sent to you each Tuesday free drop your email here.