Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Psychotherapy of Sales

The other day I was discussing a client frustration with someone. She happens to be a psychotherapist.

The frustration is this: Some clients drive me crazy. They're successful. Their business is everything. It is literally their sole source of income and wealth.

On top of that, the essence of their business is encased in technology -- in servers, databases, and LOBs. Their entire business, whether its worth $10 million, $20 million, or $50 million, is all embodied in a few thousand dollars worth of technology.

So I make a recommendation on how to secure, safeguard, or improve their system. There is universal agreement that this is the right thing to do.

Then the client comes back and says
- Yeah. I saw a thing at Computer Mart that does the same thing for $200.
- There's an online store that has a piece of junk that claims to do the same thing, and we don't *really* need technical support anyway.
- Here's the exact same model on Ebay, only it's second hand, beat to hell from being crow-barred out of a rack, and there's no warranty.




Do I care more about my clients' data than they do? Do I care more about their business than they do?

The worst case scenario is after a disaster recovery. We've recovered their machine from the ashes.

We've done a miracle. We propose to spend a few thousand dollars to make the next disaster recovery last 1/10th the time. And they're trying to cheap-ass the solution!

Do they really want their entire business to rely on some second-hand, cheap piece of garbage because they save $1,500?

Are they insane?


long pause


At last my friend points out: "You understand that this is a control issue, right?"

uhhh . . .

"You have a vision of what's right and what's true. But your customer also has a vision about how to operate, and what's true, and what works. And, ultimately, the customer gets to decide what they'll do.

"You can control your recommendations, but not their decisions."

"You need to let go of the things you can't control."

I protested. I'm right and they're wrong. My solution is the right solution. Even if they asked another consultant and took his advice, I'd be happy. But the client buys whatever junk he finds on the first page of a Google search. Why does he have a consultant?

"Control." She says. "You don't get to control your customer's business. You need to make good recommendations, explain your reasoning, and then let go of it."

Okay. At some point I no longer control the buying process. My frustration comes from believing I should control more than I do. It's not a money issue, really. It's more . . . fear.

When this pile of second-hand junk breaks down, the client will call me. Then it's *my* problem and *I* have to answer the questions about why we weren't doing our job: taking care of their systems.

It's very hard not to want to control the entire process.

My first reaction is to put punitive measures in place. If you don't buy what we recommend, we'll double the cost of tech support and nothing's covered by managed services. That'll show them.

Or they'll just go somewhere else.

I still don't control the whole process!

What a painful sales lesson. Some people will agree and buy. Some won't.

I need to let go.

I don't control the universe.

I need to accept the limits of my control.

The customer is not a fool, building his entire business on a cheap piece of junk.

I need to let go.

I need to accept the limits of my control.

I need to let go.

Must control fist of destruction.

I need to let go.

I need to let go.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:10 AM

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. :)

    Your control freak comrade, Amy

    PS ever see the movie "Anger Management?" goosfrabba my friend


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