I recently read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber – a renowned ‘classic’ on entrepreneurship – and I have to say that I found it fascinating and exciting. It really helped me to look at The 7 Graces Project CIC and see what my co-director, Lynn Serafinn, and I needed to do to get the organisation up and running in a sustainable manner that won’t overwhelm us. It helped me see that I want The 7 Graces Project to become an entity in its own right that will outlive our personal involvement. And, finally, it helped me see what Lynn and I need to do in order to achieve this.
I love the systemisation and standardisation that Gerber proposes as essential in the early phases of establishing a new business. I love the idea of building a business that will work without you.
But here’s my admission – I didn’t finish the book. I switched off when Gerber started talking about sales and marketing.
To be fair, there were warning signs right at the beginning of the book when he seemed to imply that people are all the same and should be treated exactly the same, and that the systems you use in the delivery of your business should never vary. In my excitement at the rest of what I was reading, I put this down to the fact that the book focuses on retail businesses rather than those that offer soft-skill services that are typically more concerned with individuality and personalisation. I allowed for this and made a mental note that I might have to discard or adapt some of his advice to make it relevant and applicable to our business.
Ultimately, what switched me off about The E-Myth is that it offers an old paradigm model of sales and marketing. It advocates working at a preconscious level when dealing with customers. It talks about how people operate at a pre-intellectual level and that sales people and business owners should communicate with potential customers at that pre-intellectual, pre-verbal level – speaking to their deepest subconscious and, essentially, manipulating them. One example is how he believes that the colour of the clothes you wear has an effect on your ability to sell.
Gerber also advocates using a predefined script for pre-sales and sales meetings. Now, I don’t know about you, but the second I even get a whiff that someone is following a script I run for hills!
Gerber also advises touching a customer’s arm, using the ‘right words’ and saying their name often during your conversation are sure fire ways of building a rapport with them, thus making them more likely to buy something they may or may not want or need. I strongly object to anyone who advocates a technique in which the wants and needs of the customer are irrelevant.
Here’s something I experienced recently that demonstrates what I mean:
Walking through town the other day, a young man with a clipboard approached me, manoeuvred himself until he made eye contact with me and then flattered and flirted with me – vehemently denying my age, offering to take me out for lobster and champagne, professing deep disappointment that I’m in a relationship etc. etc. etc. It was all very charming, all very jokey and benign and – yes – compelling and flattering. But THEN came the spiel: had I been affected by cancer in any way? All the wonderful work that his charity is doing on winning the fight against cancer – all without government support.
Then he asked, ‘Can I ask you a question? Do you enjoy a cup of coffee? Would you miss the cost of a cup of coffee from your purse every week?’
‘Well,’ I said, hedging my bets and knowing I wasn’t going to be bamboozled by this charming young man, ‘money’s tight at the moment so I’m not committing to any regular financial outgoings, no matter how small.’
‘Really?’ he replied, ‘just £3 a week? You wouldn’t even notice it.’
Bored now and uncomfortable I said, ‘I’m not going to be giving you any money.’ Upon which, the charming smile faded, the eye contact was broken and he turned away from me with barely a ‘Thank you for your time.’
This young man used every trick in the book to manipulate me: he flattered me; he made me feel good about myself; he made it personal by asking me if I had been affected by cancer and then he tried to bully me and make me feel guilty. I normally don’t even stop to talk to these charity muggers. I even remember muttering something about not having time as I saw him home in on me. But something in his manner – maybe because the sun was shining, maybe because I was in a good mood – made me stop.
The point I’m making is that this old paradigm sales technique not only works on our deepest preconscious motivators, it dehumanises us. It doesn’t allow that we are all different. By talking to our preconscious mind it doesn’t allow us to make conscious choices.
And we are more sophisticated than that (so it’s patronising too). We know we don’t like it, we know we’re being manipulated and made to feel guilty, mean or uncaring or indeed, made to feel good and attractive and sexy. And yet, it’s so tempting to fall for it.
In this new paradigm, let’s pay our customers and potential customers the compliment of treating them as discerning, sophisticated and unique individuals who know what is right for them, can make up their own minds – consciously. Let’s give them the information they need about what we do, without any manipulation, at a conscious intellectual level, so that they can decide for themselves whether or not what we have to offer is what they want and/or need.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts about new and old ways of selling. Do share your thoughts and stories in the comments box.
24th March 2014
Nancy V Goodyear is business mentor & life coach who loves to help social entrepreneurs and small business owners get focused and organised. With a BA (Hons) in Learning Disability Nursing, she has extensive professional experience working in health & social care within the non-profit sector. She is fluent in French, having lived in France for some time, and is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership programme. Nancy is also Co-Director of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a non-profit social enterprise that provides training and mentorship in ethical marketing to independent business owners, social entrepreneurs and change-making corporates. She works closely with 7 Graces Founder Lynn Serafinn to develop training and consultancy packages for business owners seeking to build and develop their marketing platform ethically. Her over-riding aim in all her work is to help others reconnect to who they and to their business. http://nancyvgoodyear.com
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)