Conflicting levels of interest
As you may know, the company I work for was acquired by one of our American competitors.
So last week we had a marketing team arriving from US, in order to interview all the different projects we have right now and decide whether they are interested in them or not. We had some early “intelligence” saying they were really interested only in a couple of projects, because there is a lot of overlap between what we do and what they do, including the project I work for. Still, we tried our best to prepare great presentation and demo of our product. Our “angle” was that while yes, the products are superficially similar, there is a different positioning for them – like how you have Mercedes and Toyota making cars but targeting different markets.
So we met them on Thursday and what we got was more or less this:
There were 4 people on the team we met – after introduction, 2 of them immediately pulled out their smart phones and started playing with them – basically ignoring us and not participating for the full 2 hours of the meeting. Another person was on and off, showing some mild interest, and the last one was actually trying to follow and ask some questions.
Now the point of this is not to complain or whine or whatever. They are the buyers so regardless of how we feel about our projects it is their right to decide that they do not care. It maybe their loss, or they actually may be right about not caring – it does not matter.
The point is that in order to actually communicate with someone about any topic – you need to have similar “level of interest” in the topic, without which no matter what you do you won’t be able to connect. Imagine a thirsty person in a desert and someone who just drank couple of litres of water – that’s what it was like in that room. We were very interested in the outcome and our project – they could not care less and were more interested in getting that over with. No matter what we or they were saying we could not get any connection. I mean even if Steve Jobs was presenting our stuff I don’t think he would have any success.
So I guess the lesson for me was that it is important to understand the ‘level of interest’ in the topic of other person when trying to talk about it. And if those levels do not match – there is no chance you can succeed. We weren’t able to create or find any interest in those people at that meeting – and thus no amout of cool demoing could change their mind. You won’t sell the refrigerator to the eskimo – unless you realize it’s warmer inside 😉
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