“If I were in your shoes, I know what I would do.”
Marketers can’t do their jobs without understanding what a prospect wants, talks about or is interested in. And managers (and leaders) are ineffective when they’re unable to imagine life through someone else’s eyes. The problem is this: if you were in my shoes, I wouldn’t be me, I would be you.
As soon as you bring your beliefs, expectations and worldview to the table, you’ve lost the ability to imagine what someone else would do in this situation. All you’re doing is imagining what you would do.
The next time you’re puzzled by the behavior of a colleague or prospect, consider the reason might have nothing to do with the situation and everything to do with who is making the decision and what they bring to it.
I cannot agree more.
Having been steeped in marketing more than 29 years, through PR, advertising and events spaces, my getting technical sales certification in Websphere and Red Hat in 2010, I can safely say that dealing with people is the greatest challenge every marketer faces.
Managing expectations is an art, not a science.
From the get go, it’s a brief, perceived from the client end. In the middle, it’s a matter of opinion how successful [or unsuccessful] a campaign has been. Even with the metrics and key performance indicators in place, interpretation is subjective. Right at the end, post mortem can be a matter of who pays the bills, and who is politically motivated to support the findings…from that, comes the next campaign budget.
Now you know why creative directors and bosses are present at the pitch and the post mortems. Who wants to be about justifying egos? Deliverables however, are a different anomaly. The way it is perceived [as truth] will pave the way for the engineering of the next planned campaign, project or campaign. The intelligence available alters the trend of the plan, and the opinions expressed are not always taken in full context of its intent. When groupthink kicks in, the baggage gets unpacked, and all the skeletons of the past pour out.
Decisions are emotional, 99% of the time. Empathy has to consider all the mitigating factors. However, by the time one repacks all the luggage and fits the skeletons back, another major ego-buster appears…WIFM.
Buddhism is a proponent of empathy, in fact, so is every religion. But the folks at the client decision-making rostrum cannot empathise with the advice unless WIFM is factored in. Marketers have to deal with the trends, and expected results as an emotional unknown, while corporations hire marketers as if they were scientists, fully knowledgeable of the outcome, based on a known formula for success.
Self defence is preservation of power [perceived or otherwise], and no one wants to buy a ticket to nowhere, or Siberia. Agreeing to disagree in a subtle way, gives space for forward thinkers to hedge bets on the humanity of achieving profitability or mindshare without the conscience it brings. When we acknowledge that a plan is achievable, we must admit it could fall short, or exceed, expectations. Acknowledging that takes a lot of courage, which not everyone is prepared to exercise. Do you notice why disclaimers exist? Do you see opportunities in either of the 2 statements:
“All factors in place, we will consider management advice to make changes to the campaign. Mind you, some of the variables are unknown, so the results will be skewed, but we will know where we stand from there, and make it better.”
“Knowing how the market reacts, we expect the following campaign to succeed with room for another support programme. No issues at all with adding management considerations. We are certain it will fly.”
Sales pitches are promises, just like election campaigns. No one wants to sound wimpy. No one wants to be held to task if something doesn’t come out as expected. The next time you hear “If I were in your shoes, I know what I would do”, you could say this, “I would love for that to happen, but by the time you take on my responsibilities, you wouldn’t be me. “
At CatalystConnector.com, we manage more than 27,000 members from across Asia. It is never easy to say “yes” to everyone, and pleasing people with business leads means matching them with others who may not share similar opinions. Even when we think we have succeeded, we may not have. Even when they believe they have created a deal, they may have killed it. The art of expectation management is rooted in empathy, because there are always other ways to come back to the negotiation table, unless you deliberately burn it.