I know that “when you wear a blindfold you cannot see” is one of those seemingly obvious truths, like “the heat was hot” (the band America) or “water is wet” (a preschool teacher).
You would never intentionally blindfold yourself while driving a car, or while performing any other activity that requires your vision.
But when we conduct business, do we unintentionally blindfold ourselves when we don’t focus on our customers’ needs?
The client who lost $100 million
Sometimes we are oblivious of our own actions.
Ali Al-Faraj wrote a LinkedIn post about the importance of cultural awareness. He started the post as follows:
I had a client who lost a $100M investment–
Because of slamming his hand on a table.From https://www.linkedin.com/posts/alfaraj_i-had-a-client-who-lost-a-100m-investment-activity-7042162614579163137-VyDr/
Al-Faraq’s client was a “hardcore” American salesperson who was presenting to a Middle Eastern investment firm. His hardcore presentation didn’t go well, especially when he started slamming his hand on the table.
To see how the investment firm reacted, see the original post. (Although I guess you already figured out that the client didn’t get the money. Al-Faraq didn’t bury the lede.)
What the client did BEFORE he slammed his hand on the table
But when I read Al-Faraq’s description of the meeting, I realized that his client lost his audience long before the client pounded the table. Al-Faraq’s post includes this key sentence.
He dove into the presentation.From https://www.linkedin.com/posts/alfaraj_i-had-a-client-who-lost-a-100m-investment-activity-7042162614579163137-VyDr/
Middle Easterners value cultivating relationships. In fact, this source asserts that “[i]nitial meetings are all about relationship building.” Diving into a presentation during the first meeting before your audience knows about you is understandably upsetting.
But this is not limited to business with Middle Easterners.
Diving into a presentation without understanding your audience is a serious mistake in any culture.
The Work Lady does her homework
Many years ago, before Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility were formed, there was one Motorola. And one year when I was at Motorola, our Biometric User’s Conference engaged Jan McInnis, The Work Lady, as one of our speakers.
When she spoke at our conference, McInnis did not just dive into her morning presentation unprepared. Before her session, she spent some time with the conference organizers and asked questions about her audience, so that she could understand them better and why this “AFIS” thing was so important to these people.
She didn’t just do that for us. It’s a standard part of her process.
Prior to the event, Jan has a conference call with your conference committee to incorporate specific challenges your group is facing into her keynote!From https://theworklady.com/
Her homework makes all the difference for her audiences.
Focus on the customer
McInnis, Al-Faraq, and many of you understand that to have success with a customer, you have to understand the customer. As Ali Al-Faraq says: “Knowing your audience is key!”
Don’t intentionally blindfold yourself before approaching your customer.