Answering the front door one day, my immediate thought was, "What is he going to try to sell me today?" The salesman used his influence as he held out a small plastic vial and said, "I will only ask for two minutes and two ounces... of your tap water, please." Well, he was courteous and now he had me curious.
After satisfying his request for the tap water he performed a simple chemical test on it to show how much chlorine was in the water my family was drinking. Compared to a swimming pool, I will admit, it was unsettling. Then he showed me the same tap water after filtration. I was shocked at the difference.
Before seeing his 6th grade science experiment, I didn't even know I needed water filtration. Once I saw the need, I was open to discussing his proposed filtration solution.
The Path of Least Resistance
Humans choose the path of least resistance until there is a compelling reason not to. Let that sink in for a moment because I just made a broad statement about all of us. If your pride is rising up and you're thinking...
"Maybe for you, but not for me! I go to the gym every day and choose to live in the heavy resistance of those weights!"
Well then, you actually just proved my point. In your mind, there is a compelling reason why you should take a much harder path and go to the gym. We choose the path of least resistance... until we don't.
We choose the path of least resistance... until we don't.
What would make us choose a path with more resistance? There is a simple answer: because there's a good reason to. When there's a good reason to change... we do. However, until there's a good reason, we're quite happy taking the easy road. We explore 12 tools and 3 power bases in our Tools for Influencing workshop.
WHY Should the Audience Change?
If your audience doesn't see a reason to change... they won't. In all fairness, neither would you. You demonstrate the reason to change by exposing a gap between where you are today and where you could be tomorrow. The difference between "what is" and "what could be" provides the reason to change.
Once the group sees the gap between how things are today and how they could be, they are more open to change.
HOW Do I Show Them the Gap?
Option 1: Just "okay" is no longer okay!
One simple method to expose a gap is to start with a description of the current environment. The audience will agree and think, "Yeah... we know. That's how it is right now." Then, you show how the current situation is not where you want to be.
For example, I saw a Sales Manager use a competitor comparison. She started by sharing her sales team's current results, which were good. Then, while everyone was high-fiving each other, she shared the much-better results from a competitor. In an instant the team went from "We're good!" to "We've got to do something!"
Option 2: We're on the wrong path
Another method for showing the gap is to show a past trend of data leading to your current situation. Then, show a projected forecast of the trend (catastrophe!) if things continue on this path. This creates a sense of urgency to change.
The immediate question the audience asks is, "How can we avoid this future doom?" One caveat to this approach is that the data used to forecast the future must be trusted by the audience. If the data is questionable, they may not agree with your proposed need to change.
Whichever path you choose for exposing the gap, the audience needs to see the gap before they will be ready to move.
Will YOU make a change?
If what you're doing today is not getting the results you want, then you need to make a change. Approach your messaging with two simple steps: expose the need (gap) and show a simple path to a solution. By doing this, you can achieve better results.
See what I did right there? I got you looking for a gap... 😉
Until next time...
Russ Peterson Jr.
Russ Peterson Jr. is the co-founder and President of iSpeak, Inc. – An award-winning professional development training company. Russ is a speaker, international trainer, and published author on Professional Sales Communication and Business Communication. He delivers workshops, keynotes, and personal communication coaching services to business professionals in the US and around the world. iSpeak helps people build stronger relationships and achieve more through better communication. You can connect with Russ directly through LinkedIn.
Picture credit: Artem Podrez, pexels.com