Please, no more ‘silver bullets.’

Maybe it’s who I’m following on Twitter lately, or maybe it’s just that the white noise has reached a fever pitch when it comes to “10 Rules for Making the Perfect Pancake” or “The Perfect Start-Up” or “Don’t make THESE horrific blood curdling mistakes in business” or “What a Super-Smart-Person-Who-Probably-Isn’t-You is doing to make a ridiculous fortune” and on and on.  Endless lists.  I’m having endless-list fatigue. I could wallpaper my office with these lists–like Joyce and his rejection letters–reminders of the missteps.  

There are more ‘silver bullets’ out there than any rational person might ever hope to track down.  Let alone implement.  

Yet, when I talk to really successful (business) people they don’t pin their results on the next best mousetrap–especially when it comes to growing their top and bottom line.  Not to say they don’t respect a valid and tested outside perspective.  They almost always do.  But more than that–and this why I admire them–they have one simple thing in common:

They care more about people.

By ‘care’ I don’t mean that they pay closer attention to the machinations of ‘doing business’ better than the next guy.  There are some amazingly gifted ‘detail people’ out there who are spending ridiculous amounts of time devising NORAD-esque processes and procedures.  But meticulous operating tactics are inhuman. Rather, it’s the demonstrative care towards people, towards customers, that sets these businesses far above the competitor who’s been memorizing “8 Killer Closing Phrases EVERYONE Should Know”…

It’s my friend in Salt Lake City who delivers his wife’s fresh white chocolate chip and cranberry cookies to each and every customer with a smile and a handshake (rivaled only by her snickerdoodles).

It’s the company that changes the batteries in the smoke detectors for every single retired client because the customer can’t reach a high ceiling anymore without risking  injury.

It’s my friend Noelle who offers to pay for a deluxe kennel service for her client’s pets during a lengthy installation.

It’s the sales manager who sends a nice video greeting for his company to every customer.

It’s the salesman who says to his customers: “Help me understand what you’re going through with this decision so I can be more effective in making smart recommendations that you feel ok with.”

The most obvious, and most skeptical reaction to these small examples (and there are lots more) is to wag a finger and say “Those are all just tactics designed to show the customer you’re different”  To which I can only reply, “And the problem with that is…?”

I’m beginning to conclude that the only ‘silver bullet’ to sales is the most improbable formula of all: no formula whatsoever.  People want to feel respected.  They want to feel secure.  They want to feel valued.  They want trust and security.  They want sharing and they want to share.  They want someone to reach out and say “Help me understand your point-of-view.”  It’s more than empathy.  Empathy is limited.  Especially in sales.  Folks like to act as if it’s an easy lever to pull but it’s not.

Caring more means admitting the inescapable reality of life: We’re all a little frail, and we all work really hard for the things we have.  So don’t try and twist it out of me.  Just show me you care more than the other guy.  We’ll work out the details afterward.

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