You Can’t Judge a
Book By its Cover!Person By His Photo!
This video* is an interesting study in how 6 photographers had a different bit of information about a subject, and the 6 different inferences they made based on their piece of information. Granted, the photographers each had a different piece of information, and they also spoke briefly with the subject, but where they didn’t have all the facts, they each filled in the gaps.
When we have just a bit of information about someone or some thing, we use our past experiences to fill in the gaps to help us create a “full picture” of that person or thing. We even complete the picture when that bit of information isn’t true or accurate!
For example, when I tell people that I live in Arizona, most people envision swimming pools, golf courses, desert sands and blazing heat! All of this is partially true, but it’s not the whole picture. We also have a lot of lakes and rivers, mountainous areas with tall pines, and the dry desert sands are actually beautifully landscaped with flowering plants, cacti, and a variety of geologic regions, all with plenty of both flora and fauna!
Why do I bring up this topic? It’s important to talk about because we ALL use this automatic “shortcut” to fill in the gaps so we can better understand our world. This process is called stereotyping, and we all engage in stereotyping.
Problems emerge, however, when we base our decisions on that little bit of information and then take action on our assumptions as if they were the truth.
In direct sales, the prime examples come from the field, where distributors may perceive someone in their sphere of influence as “probably not at all interested” because they appear to have plenty of money, or hold some position of prestige. Distributors and party plan consultants avoid sharing the business with these perceived high-status individuals, and tend to “recruit down”, pitching the business opportunity to people within their perceived same or lower social status.
The results of this kind of thinking and subsequent behavior include (but are not limited to):
- overlooking the potential pot of gold (people of a specific social status tend to have friends in that same status);
- if they do end up building a downline, chances are pretty good that most of the distributors also target others of the same or lower social status;
- they may also skip right past the other potential pot of gold by drawing conclusions about people of a perceived lesser social status (“they don’t have any money”);
- ultimately, the distributor quits because they fail to thrive.
Many years ago, I sold computers at Circuit City. When customers came in looking like they were broke or ignorant (of technology), my colleagues ignored them. I approached everyone and got to know about their needs and expectations before deciding how much time to invest in pursuing a sale. Consequently, I was consistently in the national top 10% of all Circuit City sales staff and earning good money, while my colleagues made $9.25 per hour. Customers routinely waited an hour or more to work with me instead of working with another sales person!
I applied the same strategy in direct sales, where I became a monster recruiter by using the “3-foot rule.” My goal was to strike up a conversation with anyone within 3 feet of me, and I recruited people out of grocery store checkout lines, people in restaurants and stores, airports/airplanes, and just about every other place where someone was within 3 feet!
Instead of drawing a conclusion based on what little information I had about a person, I’d really try to engage in a conversation to learn about the person’s motivations and needs, and if the situation was appropriate, I’d bring up the business opportunity. Checkout lines were like shooting fish in a barrel! People were thinking about the money they were about to spend, and no matter how much money someone had, it was easy to talk about having more!
I’ll get off of my soapbox now. Checkout this video and let me know what you think.
Does any of this information apply to you or to the consultants/distributors in your company? How can you work to condition your distributors to talk to the right people? I’m happy to talk with you about things that you can do RIGHT NOW to focus your consultants/distributors on the right targets!
Feel free to call or email me for more about this important topic, or anything else related to growing your direct sales company.