Keep your Customer Posted

When we’re bang in the middle of our sales meetings, in the midst of our coaching sessions or performing in front of an audience, we sometimes forget one of the golden rules.

My 8 year old daughter was loading two new computer games on her laptop, which she’d borrowed from her brother. Zoo Tycoon and Frankie Secret Agent. She was so excited.

Frankie Secret Agent seemed to load OK and Bethan was thrilled to get the game started so she clicked on the start button. However, the screen went blank and a small graphic in the middle of the screen stated simply that the game was loading.

And still loading 5 minutes later. And the same 5 minutes after that.

“How long will this take Daddy?”

“I’ve no idea Bethy; have some patience and leave it be.” Words of wisdom from Daddy, who was a little busy, as always.

45 minutes later she returned and the same message was on the screen

“I’m really upset with this Daddy what should I do?”

“Eject it and load Zoo Tycoon if you want.”  So she did, but this time the experience was completely different.

This time the message came up saying loading but it had a graphic showing where the loading was in the great scheme of loading. It also mentioned what was being added during the process, for example “Now loading the animals, now the zoo keepers, here comes the buildings…”

It was keeping Bethan informed and she loved it.  It kept her attention and patience to see it to the end even though the loading sequence took almost 10 minutes – 10 minutes seems like a lifetime to an 8 year old.

When in the middle of a coaching session, a sales meeting or a business presentation, we need to remember that customers and coachees need to know where they are in the process – that way we keep their attention and interest so use signposting techniques.  The oldest adage is to “tell ’em what you’re going to cover, then tell them as you approach each element of you process and then tell ’em what you covered at the end as a summary”.

Don’t keep them in the dark otherwise they’ll lose interest like my daughter and her laptop.

Isn’t it amazing what 8 year olds enjoy nowadays with Xbox Live, laptops, MSN and computer games – when I was 8, I was lucky to get to watch black and white TV, play Knock down Ginger with my mates, fall about laughing so hard that my stomach hurt, reach into a muddy gutter for a penny…and that was after I came up from the coal mine.