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Apr 28

When is the best time to throw someone a life belt?

"Well of course, when someone is in trouble and even in danger of drowning."

This is not such a dumb question when you realise that this is a simple but effective analogy that can be applied in business.

This comment came up in conversation when the person I was having coffee with said he would judge when the timing was right to approach someone on my behalf.

What point was I trying to make? If we go back to the life belt analogy, there is no point offering the "best and smartest"  life belt to people who:

  • don't go swimming
  • don't enjoy going to the beach
  • are not already in the water!

If there is no need or no awareness of the need, your efforts to offer the life belt will ineffective. At  best you might be dismissed politely, you could well be seen as a bit cranky or a nuisance, or even both!

So why don't more people apply this simple lesson in business?

  • Learn to observe someone's situation and judge their mental state.
  • Ask probing questions that are not too intrusive.
  • Work out what stage they are at, making initial enquiries or wanting to make a decision right now?

So next time you are eagerly trying to sell your product or service, take a moment to think about the life belt.