While waiting to board my flight back home, the gate attendant made the following announcement:
“This will be a completely full flight. For those of you boarding in later groups, we recommend checking your carry-on as we will run out of overhead space. You will not be charged to have your bag checked – we are performing this as a courtesy to our customers. I repeat, we will check your bag as a courtesy to our customers.”
A courtesy? They run out of overhead space and yet they act like you are doing the customer a favor to check their bag? Come on, they should be apologizing for the inconvenience, not trying to spin it like they are offering some sort of free benefit.
This happens all the time now. Last week I was at an auto show and one of the car manufacturers had a prototype car displayed. Now most of the cars at the auto show are unlocked and you can jump in to check out the interior, but the prototypes understandably are locked. However, rather than have a sign simply stating that this door is locked because it is a prototype (and therefore there aren’t many of them), instead the sign read “For your safety, this prototype is locked.”
For my safety? How dangerous is it in there? What’s going to happen – the airbags might accidentally deploy? Are the seats made out of cardboard and will collapse under our weight? No, I’m sure you would be fine if you sat in the driver side and played with all the buttons and knobs. But somewhere along the line someone thought we were so gullible that if they said it was for our safety, we would immediately be appreciative of how thoughtful they were looking out for our well-being.
In staffing, we do this as well. We’re having trouble filling an order, so we “spin” it that we are taking extra time to find the perfect candidate. Or we don’t offer something that the client wants, so we respond to them that we’ve made a conscious decision not to offer it in the best interests of our client. We’ve all done it, and we’ve all had it done to us. And the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t work. We’re not stupid, and neither are our prospects.
What our clients and prospects want from us is sincerity and honesty. Not some convoluted story that puts a positive spin on an inconvenience, or positioning a missing service offering as actually in some way a benefit for them. If we can’t do it, are having challenges, or dropped the ball, they just want us to own up to it and tell them how we will do better in the future. Sometimes a frank explanation and/or an apology are the best things your prospect can hear.
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