Early civilization relied on hearing and seeing for its very safety. We still do, but today we have a tendency, due to the inexpensive technologies available, to bombard people with messages.
Remember when it was only ABC, CBS and NBC? Now it is YBC, MBC, my BFF’s BC. You know what YBC and MBC by extension of ABC and NBC without me explaining it. Let’s do the math. Given there are only so many hours in the day, the time we spend being influenced by a channel of communication is narrowing sharply. We are increasingly filtering out and even blocking communications channels. We are on a do not call list for our phone at home. We pay $5 a year to do that. We record the news so we can skip through the commercials. There are systems now that will skip the news in the recording step.
Yet, we now multitask to do the things we want to. How often have you held a conversation with someone who is reading their emails or Facebook postings on their phone? We banned all electronic distractions in our meetings, or the room would be full of them and no one would be listening fully to what we had to talk about.
The problem today very simply is that we have too many channels competing. This forces us to become very selective. Just imagine you are walking through a trade show at a big meeting and everyone there knows you just walked in and starts broadcasting to you. What are you likely to do? You are going to run for your life.
I now rest my case about the attendance at energy meetings these days. They are dominated by wolves over sheep. The sheep run for the hills and the ones that know that are truly ripe for the slaughter do not even show up any longer. The may attend the technical sessions but they don’t dare walk through the exhibit halls. The sheep that do show up are the newbies to the industry who don’t know who the vendors and trade allies are. They want to meet the wolves. They probably don’t have any buying power so the wolves become increasingly agitated to find their food supply. The result has been that many of the bigger wolf packs have become downright “in your face” aggressive.
I have been in this business about 30 years and have watched the pattern change relentlessly toward a trade show mentality. What has also changed is the perspective of those who do attend. Thirty years ago the person attending was middle to upper management with a large span of interest. Now, we are dealing with programmatic silos. Everyone sits in their silos working diligently to get their numbers and has little interaction and certainly almost no collaborative involvement with the person sitting in the next cubicle working in their silo.
Vendors seldom have products and services that are this narrow. Most cover a broad range of perspectives. This compounds the marketing and sales process enormously. The result is that trade shows are becoming less and less effective for all parties. We need a new model for vendors and trade allies to find each other.
I heard an interview years ago with a person from Frito-Lay who talked about stomach share. I thought that was an insightful, but rather crass, way to get to the bottom line in their business. They define success as the percentage of what a person eats. If you define that to be what a person puts in the stomach through their mouth I guess that is correct. However, given people have enough spare food in their homes to feed most of the rest of the world for a month, I am not sure that is the right definition.
So, let me get to my point in this blog. We need to stop broadcasting thinking that we have the answers that our customers are seeking. They are oblivious. We are irrelevant to most of them. We are not going to get into their heads at all if we keep blasting our messages at them. We need to reverse the process and seek their hearts. Work with me a bit on this.
We need to get to the Customer AMEN – Align the Mission Engage the Need
This is an interesting acronym based upon the phrase we all hear in churches, synagogues or mosques. It emanates from the ancient Hebrew and simply means “so be it” or “let it be true” It can come spontaneously in a conversation when someone feels the immediate inner agreement with what has been said or done. It emanates deeper than an OMG and certainly more noteworthy than a LMAO.
It comes from the alignment of the sense of purpose of people with a need as perceived by the person to whom you are paying such close attention. They are working together on a common cause. It may be due to a truly imminent danger or simply the recognition that something meaningful was noticed or just happened. You will often hear it uttered when something good or noble happens. There is something very deep in the human experience at work here, and it deserves further consideration than the idea that something is going to perform and abstract good like save the planet. Jesus said it produces heaven on earth. How can you argue against that thought?
When we engage the needs of others we not only let them know we care (which has proven healing powers) but we also move from the safe center of our own hectic daily lives to include the objectives of others. This is not about the concept of works bringing us closer to our God, but more about the sense of community that enriches us all. The news media have been featuring “the person of the week” and including it LAST in the broadcast because they know the average viewer is interested in this. In many ways, this may be the most important thing that happened this week. Think about that.
The title of the blog indicates a subtlety here. We are no longer just competing for the eyeballs of people. Where are moving past the issues that they have on their mind. The key to relational influence is now to dig deeper and seek the heart of the other person. Seek their innermost wellbeing. This is not about just being nice or helpful. It is about slowing down, listening carefully, and truly trying to understand the other person. There is no regard to being right or wrong. There is often no reason to even “solve the problem” or make the pain go away. It most often is the sense in them that they are not traveling their otherwise lonely road alone.
If, deep in their heart, they know you care, I think we will eventually have the chance to be more influential and helpful in our own minds and hearts. Right now, that is just not that important. It is what is going on in their heart that matters the most.
I remember the phrase, the eyes are the windows to the soul. Maybe that’s it in a nutshell. The eyes are not portals for us to push our stuff through, but a way to see deeper into the other person’s being.