There is a growing movement of people that seem to believe that selling is equivalent to the old style peep shows frequented by dirty old men. They’d rather we all hold hands and sing songs around the campfire. I love a good round of Kumbaya as much as the next person but campfire songs don’t pay my bills. Crude of me to say I know, but I am rather fond of the basics of life such as shelter, electricity, indoor plumbing and at least one meal a day.
I am all for engagement, and authenticity but wonder if we have gone overboard. While the way we market and sell continues to evolve, the activities cannot be eliminated. If I listen to this growing contingent, I am never to ask for business and when I do receive it because I played nicely with the kids at camp, I am to perform the work and then apologize profusely for charging for it.
Hogwash. While I am not a fan of ONLY talking about yourself, and pushing your products like a crack dealer on a street corner I am quite passionate about my work. I have clients who are doing amazing things. I love sharing their successes and am honored to play a tiny role in their business. Sometimes I will talk about that. And by golly while we’re singing if you express a need I am going to speak up! (Truthfully, I am more apt to recommend someone else because it’s not all about me!) Conversely, when you speak you can count on me to really listen and hear you.
Where on earth did we get the idea that we should be ashamed to be in business? The energy company never apologizes to me for taking my money, nor do any of the other vendors I pay monthly. Many make me feel good about CHOOSING them and express their delight I am a customer, but apologies? Never. And why should they? These vendors are providing something I want or need. I pay them in exchange for their products and services. We’re all happy even without the campfire songs. The songs are a bonus, either an entry or deepening of the relationship but not required for me to choose to do business with you. What is required is you delivering on the promise, you can sing all you want but in the end if you don’t do what you say it really won’t matter.
I’m cool with not being Facebook friends with my OB/Gyn. We’re quite personal enough, thank you very much. I don’t need my grocery store to follow me on Twitter and tweet me inspirational messages (although I do love coupons and sale alerts).
I love the conversations and friendships that develop via social media but I also have a responsibility to be a faithful steward to my business. This means I have to tell people I exist. I have to make money so that I can keep my economic ecosystem in balance. When I do the work, I also have to charge for it. I will not apologize for billing you but I will work my tail off to exceed your expectations. I will treat your business with respect and look for ways to add value, and I will let you know how much I appreciate you choosing me. I may even sing a song or two with you but I will not disrespect you by apologizing for the transaction.
So yes, let’s keep the engagement, bring it on! However, let us not hang our heads in shame or fear at respectfully engaging in marketing.
What are your thoughts? Is there a happy middle ground? Dissenting opinions are welcomed, disrespect is not so be nice to me and each other.
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