The Right Thing at the Wrong Time is Still the Wrong Thing
There’s an experience I regularly set up for a group of CEOs. I start by giving them a piece of paper with 100 random numbers on it. I ask them to circle the number one, and it usually takes them just a moment to complete this activity. Next, I ask them to see how many numbers they can circle in numerical order starting with the number one (i.e. two, three, four, etc.). I give them 30 seconds for this. What they don’t realize is that one of the numbers is missing that they’ll need to complete this.
Human Instinct: Be Efficient
Watching how people solve problems and compete to win is incredible. Some people will swing the pen from side to side in search of an elusive missing number, while others will go in circles and still others will zigzag across the page. The breakthrough is: people have an innate need to use a system. And under pressure, they will invent a system like swinging the pencil down each row of circles to find a number that doesn’t really exist.
But there’s one truth that remains, no matter how hard I look for a number or how I go about trying to find it: If a number is missing, you won’t find it. Your system may be spot-on, but without the presence of the missing number, it is still WRONG!
Efficient VS Correct
Let’s translate this concept into business terms. An example could be you asking how much money a prospect has available to spend on your product or service. He replies with the answer, “none.” Was that the right or wrong thing to do? I think we would agree the WRONG thing, if we did not get the answer we were looking for.
Nothing is inherently wrong in asking the question, “Do you have a budget?” But until you have an understanding of how people justify decisions, what compels them to spend money or what problem you could be solving for them, asking this question could be the right thing at the wrong time! In other words, it would still be the wrong thing to do in that moment.
So as you go about every business decision you make, consider the timing. Is the question you want to ask a prospect something that should be asked now, or two weeks from now? Does the service you’re offering make sense at this point in a customer’s journey, or would it make more sense at another juncture? Yes, you need solid systems. But timing can be everything.