Lessons From A Teeter Totter

Last week, we celebrated my sister's birthday outdoors--Dairy Queen root beer floats and Minnehaha Park teeter tottering. Amazing--March in Minnesota. Instead of being inside, hanging out with cocoa and popcorn, moaning about the blizzard and watching basketball, there we were in the sunshine, moving and laughing just like little kids.

And then it hit me. Keeping upright on a teeter totter is actually an interesting metaphor for creating and implementing a business growth strategy. It takes balance, muscle and especially when you're up, offers a bigger view of the playground.

Balance. A fundamental part of any growth equation.  
Think back to a significant buying experience you've been through--your first car, the purchase of complex technology for your company, the engagement of an attorney or CPA. Now, envision two people on the teeter totter; you, the potential buyer, and the "salesperson" as your partner. Feel yourself moving forward or back, jumping up and down, each of you adjusting the equilibrium by your positioning.

There's another piece, called the fulcrum, a built-in part that stabilizes the board.  In this metaphor, I equate the fulcrum with the shared understanding and values between the two riders. Because it holds the balance, it's a critical component in the creation--and implementation--of your growth strategy.

How much easier do you think your strategy is going to be to build if you clearly define your ideal clients ... Of course, they're the ones whose wants and needs match your products and services. Perhaps far more importantly, they're the ones whose own values "fit" yours.  For more on the power of incorporating shared values with clients, customers and colleagues, consider exploring the work of Vitalwork.

Logic and emotion as muscles.
Envision a different potential buyer and salesperson on a bigger, stronger teeter-totter. Each rider was born with two "muscles," logic and emotion, but the sales person hadn't exercised her emotional muscle for years. As a result, she's throwing the balance way off kilter. Her potential buyer may get overwhelmed with her proclamations about facts and features, and not be able to enjoy the ride when there's no room for his feelings.

One of my favorite bloggers, David Armano, constantly opens my eyes to the needs for both logic and emotion, and the importance of incorporating them not just in our words or messages, but in the ways we connect insight and ideas into real relationships and authentic interaction.  

Maybe it's time to exercise your own logic and emotion muscles in the creation and execution of your business growth strategy? Visit David ... He's not only got great ideas, but some of the most powerful visual symbols I've seen in years.
The teeter totters don't stand alone, at least not in most parks or playgrounds. Authentic growth strategies likely take more than one turn on the teeter totter, and in fact involve far more riders and likely other playground equipment. One of the most provocative books I've read this year is Sharon Drew Morgen's Dirty Little Secrets: Why Buyers Can't Buy and Sellers Can't Sell and What You can Do About It.  I'm now on my third read, and I keep learning more. She's positioned as a visionary, and that doesn't feel at all like a strong enough word. Somehow, a combination of revolutionary + guide, gutsy thinker and true facilitator, seems to be a little closer.

Her base message (at least how I'm seeing it after 3 rounds) is just this: to really "get" how buying decisions are made, we need to realize there are huge steps that buyers go through on their own. She posts that many sales are lost (as many as 85% of them) because the sales person doesn't have a clue about the organizational dynamics that go into a buying decision. And, without both a broader awareness and the development of practical facilitation tools, they won't be able to offer much help towards that process.

She'll definitely stretch your brain. In my company's growth strategy evolution, we're daily reflecting and dialoging about how to integrate her very insightful work into our next steps. If you haven't read her, I'd start. Now. Glad to meet you for coffee--or a quick teeter totter ride--to think out loud together.