Monday, March 18, 2013

Communication is a path, not an event

Communication is a path, not an event:
The other day, I heard the CEO of a large corporation drone on for twenty minutes. He was pitching a large group of strangers, reading them a long, prepared speech that was largely irrelevant to their needs. They weren't there to hear him and in fact, weren't even able to hear him over the buzz in their heads... this was classic interruption, no permission granted.
If you'd interviewed the 150 people in the room an hour later, no one could have told you a single thing about what he had said.
If your tactic is to have a one-shot, the equivalent of a pickup line in a singles' bar, it's pretty hopeless. You can't sell anything complex or risky in this way.
On the other hand, what if he had taken three minutes (just three) to say, "Let's talk." Give out his personal contact info or an easy way (and a good reason!) to engage with his staff. And then give up the podium and let the event go forward.
Don't sell us anything but the burning desire to follow up. The point of his talk wasn't to get a new customer (impossible), nor was it to get through the talk and get it over with (silly and selfish). No, the point of the talk should have been to open the door to have a better, individual conversation soon.
"Let's talk," uses today's interaction to make it more likely you have one tomorrow. And a dialogue leads to connection, which leads to trust which leads to engagement.
Yes, it's surprisingly difficult in today's oversaturated communications world to succeed even with an offer of "let's talk," but it's demonstrably better than the alternative.
Drip, drip, drip.