As I (Jesse) walk to my car, I am approached by a smiling woman. I smile back at her.
I had just dropped my boys off at their classrooms. The sun is shining. My boys are happy to be with their friends. I had just set up a day at the beach with some other families from school. Kids everywhere are chasing each other and making gleeful sounds. I love our school and the community here. I love my life. I am ready to drive home and get to work.
Then this woman stops me and introduces herself as the “Annual Giving Fairy.”
She smiles at me, then peers down at her paper and says, “We need all of the parents to donate at least some money.... We’re going for 100% participation. I don’t think I’ve gotten to check your name off the list yet. And the deadline is Friday. What is your name again?”
My first reaction is to bolt for my car. But I look in this woman’s eyes and I see that she has great intentions. She is on a mission to help our amazing school get funding so it can thrive. She is willing to have awkward, uncomfortable conversations for the sake of her child and all of our children having the best educational experience possible.
So why did I feel so uncomfortable?
Whether she realized it or not, she was having a sales conversation. All sales conversations have the power to feel inspiring or manipulative.
I hate feeling manipulated, as I imagine you do too.
But instead of bolting I decided to stay.
What might I discover from this uncomfortable conversation?
You see, part of our mission is about changing the way selling is done on this planet. So that for generations to come, we, the people who want to make a big difference, can be both inspiring and effective as we change the world.
So I stayed in this conversation, in part to discover more about what makes selling inspiring and effective or not.
Talking with her was quite painful, I have to admit. In fact, after the conversation I felt like I needed a good shower.
But I learned a lot. And I trust that you will, too, if you keep reading to discover what I learned about how to inspire instead of manipulate people.
Here’s the thing...
I trust that you would never intentionally manipulate someone, especially not a potential client. The problem is that when you don’t know WHY a conversation is manipulative, you’re likely to accidentally do it… or even more likely, to spend so much energy avoiding manipulating people that you have a hard time asking anyone to pay you anything.
So in this week’s blog post I go deep into exactly why those first 10 seconds of the conversation felt so awful and what she could have done differently to make the conversation inspiring.
By now, you probably want to learn from my pain and make sure that you’re never THAT person…
Okay, I’m so glad you’re still reading...
Because in order to change the world, you have to get good at having conversations where you ask people to pay you well for the great work you do.
How can you be inspiring and effective (but not salesy) as you change the world?
In order to best teach this, I’m going to pull apart the first 10 seconds of our conversation and explain why it was so slimy and then share how she could have done things differently.
This will give you GREAT insight into attracting clients in an inspiring and effective way.
First, it would help if I define Heartselling™ and Hard Selling:
- Heartselling™ is an inspiring conversation that leads to action.
- Hard Selling is a disempowering conversation that uses guilt, shame or fear to get a yes.
Heartselling™ is based on the 5 Elements of Chinese Medicine. If you’ve been to the Client Attraction Summit, you have had a chance to get the 5 Elements in your bones... and you know that if any of the 5 Elements is out of balance, the conversation can quickly turn slimy.
In the case of this conversation, all 5 Elements were out of balance.
So here’s how the first 10 seconds went:
The woman stops me and introduces herself as the “Annual Giving Fairy."
She smiles at me, peers down at her paper and says, “We’re going for 100% participation. We need all of the parents to donate at least some money.... I don’t think I’ve gotten to check your name off the list yet. And the deadline is Friday. What is your name again?”
The first Element in Heartselling™ is the Fire Element that is all about Connection. Asking me to pay money before you know my name??? This creates, as we say in Client Attraction Mastery, a major lean-out.
The second Element in Heartselling™ is the Earth Element that is about Service. This woman was showing up in service to our school which is a great cause that I am totally aligned with. But she wasn’t showing up in service to me. She was trying to get money from me without any regard to who I am, what my life is like, and what I’m most committed to.
The Third Element is the Metal Element of Acknowledgment. This Element allows you to acknowledge your potential client in a way that makes them feel special, significant or awesome. I felt like a number to be checked off of a list. Not very special, I’m afraid.
The Fourth Element is the Water Element of Curiosity. She was curious about me, mainly to know whether she could check me off her list. But was she truly interested in me or my life or my Highest Commitment to my kids and to their school that I love so much? Nope. She didn’t have time... as soon as she got my commitment, she was off to the next parent.
The Fifth Element is the Wood Element, which is about giving your people a choice. She started with this Element and when you start by asking someone to give you money, without connecting, serving, acknowledging, and getting curious, you come across as pushy, obnoxious, and you have people want to say no, even if they do really want to say yes.
In this case, she sprinkled in some guilt. She said a few moments later, “If all of our parents don’t participate in this annual fund, we’re a lot less likely to get grant funding.”
She also sprinkled in some shame. “We need all of the parents to donate at least some money.... I don’t think I’ve gotten to check your name off the list yet.” What if we’re the ONLY parents who don’t donate and then our school can’t get those badly needed grants??? How embarrassing would that be?
And a side of fear… I thought to myself, “I could ruin funding for the entire school.”
Now the truth is that because she was so bold, and because so many parents absolutely love our school, she will probably be effective in getting every one of the parents to donate. But even if this type of selling is effective, there is still a cost.
In this case, the cost was that I joined a conversation with three other parents who were talking about how turned off they were by this whole Annual Giving thing. Every one of them gave money, but didn’t feel good about it.
So there was a short-term gain for the school, but a long-term problem.
It’s little turn-offs like this that can result in a month or two later deciding to take their kids out of this school and find another. And then, while they may have gained a $25 donation, they lost an $1,000 per month tuition fee (or more if they have multiple children enrolled as we do). Ouch!
This is why, at the Client Attraction Summit, we teach that the long-term relationship is ALWAYS more important than the short term sale.
If this had been a true Heartselling™ Conversation, this is one way it could have gone:
Hi my name is _____________! I am the head of the Parents’ Liason Committee.
Do you have about 2 minutes?
Great! First of all, I saw you earlier with your two boys, they are both so amazing... and I love how you are with them.
I don’t remember your name, though...
Oh, great, Jesse! Very nice to meet you.
I feel a little awkward in this role, but I am here in support of our school and all of our parents and all of our kids... doing my best to help us get the funding we need to have this school thrive.
How has your experience been so far?
Give them a Choice.
Great! I love it too. That’s why I donate $100 per month, on top of the regular tuition.
Because I truly want to see my daughter and your boys and really everyone thrive.
You sound pretty inspired by your experience here at our school. You may not know this, but a donation from you goes even farther than the monthly tuition. We’re close to the end of our Annual Giving Fundraiser. And if we get 100% parent participation, we will be eligible to receive some big grants that could bring this school to a whole new level. Would you be open to making a donation?
If this was how to conversation had gone, I would have HAPPILY donated money. In this case, I donated because of my commitment to the school and in spite of this unpleasant experience (and truthfully to avoid guilt, fear and shame).
Although this conversation was about donating to our school, I’m sure you can translate this to your own conversations with potential clients and learn from her mistakes.
We would love to hear how you see the 5 Elements apply to any Heartselling™ Conversations you’ve had.