The list of reasons why people do and dont buy technology is endless – cost, suitability, competition, compelling events, other things to buy, indifference, desire, fear and on and on and on. Not just technology of course. Cars, holidays, homes, clothes. And it is against this background I stumbled upon something researched by business consultant – Marcial Losada. I cant remember how I did though? ( I have just read the Happiness Advantage however 🙂 – clue )
Losada conducted an extensive mathematical model and concluded that 2.9013 is the ratio of positive to negative interactions to make a corporate team successful. Through studying 100’s of corporate teams, this turns out to be the ratio of positive to negative interactions necessary to make a team successful. Bottom line. it takes three positive comments, experiences or expressions to fend off the languishing effects of one negative comment.
It is called the Losada Line and it separates people who are able to reach a complex understanding of others from those who do not. Mmm.. this got me thinking. Losada is really talking about how corporate teams work together and how the mix of positivity overcomes negativity in team working situations. Not for technology decision making but I thought it might work? This is the basis for this post tonight.
When we think about our discussions with people about buying our products and services we will always pull up a list of benefits ( positives ). We will take the generic benefits and potentially add in a few of our own. We will fire up a table or list of the Benefits ( Pros ) to the customer if they were to buy our stuff. We will also produce a list of Cons ( negatives ) to demonstrate to our client that we are being balanced and fair.
Like hell we are!! The last thing we want is to give any excuse or reason to our customer to say ‘hang on I think this Con is a big deal for me and I think I will stay where I am’. So why do we do this balanced Pros and Cons approach. Well often we are having to ‘rubbish’ a competitive product or service so we think that if we are up front then we are winning the customer’s trust by being honest and open minded.
You see the customer really does want to buy our goods and services ( if we have done a good job with them of course ) but they have a negative thought. Now if we take Losada’s Line we need to come up with at least 3 positive thoughts to counterbalance the negativity otherwise the deal is off. Now Im not going to critique the research to get to the 2.9013 number ( though privately I could equally come up with a number like 7.459 ) but I am going to say that I like what Loasada is saying. Why? Well its simple. Selling technology better is not an easy job. The number of barriers facing us today are numerous and because organizations are making IT decisions a lot harder to get passed, then having a ‘plan’ to deal with negative comments is not a bad one. In fact. A compulsory one.
My blog has often pulled vendors and others up on their ‘naievety’ in how they expect a customer just to ‘buy their technology’ without any business rationale or governance. Of course we all overcome this through our marketing and communications of our propositions. We run events. We run blogs. We use the social stratosphere. We win awards. We get accreditations. We basically follow the 101 CookBook of how to win business through doing everything everyone else is doing. Its called the channel. Everyone knows the rules and quite often people hop betweeen companies engaged in this channel business.
None of this is wrong. it is the best possible plan you could do. But there is a but. When you are in the room with a decision maker all your channel stuff is left behind. There is you and the customer and he or she has just made a comment that is a negative statement. what do you do?
Do you turn the negative into a positive? For example. The customer says “the cloud is not secure enough”. You say “More and more companies are now using the cloud and have overcome security worries”
The customer says “I will not let people bring their own kit into work”. You say “in 2015 50% of top organizations will have a BYOD policy”.
This ping pong of negative and positive comments is the natural approach we take. BTW Im making up the data in the positive comments.
Now according to Losada Line the conversation may go slightly differently.
The customer says “the cloud is not secure enough”. Now you say “there are 3 reasons why you should consider the cloud. These are (1) a much more transparent cost model (2) a platform that enables agile development work to meet peaks and troughs and ( 3) your biggest competitor has recently moved all its CRM to the cloud”. One negative comment smashed by three positive comments ( 3:1 )
The customer says “I will not let people bring their own kit into work – too risky“. Now you say ” there are 3 reasons why you should consider a BYOD strategy. These are (1) the cost of managing a BYOD device is 65% lower than that of a standard employer owned laptop device” (2) organisations who introduce a BYOD strategy have a 20% higher staff retention ratio (3) the use of tools can control a portion of the device where corporate data is held but stills allows central IT to remote wipe the device in any potential compromise situation.One negative comment smashed by three positive comments ( 3:1 )
What have we learned? Probably not a lot other than a very slight nuance which may help us next time confronted with a negative comment. After all we know about positive thinking. We all know how to sell. And before you ask – “if a customer has 3 negative comments about your stuff does it follow you need 9 positive comments?”
So my advice. Consider a particular deal or discussion with a colleague or client. Are you above or below the line?
Oh and the more positive comments you have then the better 🙂