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When Somebody Is Being Totally Unreasonable, Look For A Different Agenda

At some point it seems as though it happens to all of us….we’re dealing with somebody; perhaps it’s a customer, or perhaps we are the customer, and, all of a sudden, the other party seems totally unreasonable for no good reason at all. And, being human, we pretty much set this odd behavior aside and, for a while at least, keep on keepin’ on along the same path we started on, because, after all, what’s going on just doesn’t make any sense. I sometimes refer to this as “banging your head up against a brick wall”, which isn’t a very smart thing to do, but, like I said, we are all human.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you  are in a B to B situation and you have a wonderful product to sell that will absolutely result in a higher profit margin for your customer. So, you pitch along that line because, first of all, it’s the truth, and second, the numbers are difinitive and easy to understand. And, after presenting to your customer, you don’t get a positive reaction. Maybe it’s just indifference, or maybe even a negative reaction. Whatever it is, it isn’t what you expected.

And, you don’t get it. It just doesn’t make sense. There’s just no intelligent reason to say no to your proposal. All the facts are there, and it should almost be able to sell itself. But the response isn’t a “yes” this sounds like a good idea. So, you ‘keep on keepin’ on’ and ‘banging your head against a brick wall’…for a while. And then it hits you. This person must have a different agenda than the one I’m explaining and making perfectly clear to them. What could that agenda be?

Well, Seth Godin a well-known Internet entrepreneur, recently wrote about this subject from the perspective of selling a product to a business, and the person disseminating the information, and who will be making the decision, is a non-owner. Godin’s take on this is something he refers to as “A Hierarchy of Business To Businees Needs…kind of along the line of the familiar Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs that simply and directly explain a lot about human behavior. Note the illustration below….


As this illustration shows, from Maslow’s perspective, if the needs at the bottom of the pyramid are not taken care of, then an individual cannot (and will not) focus on the next level of needs and achieve the wonderful things at the top of the pyramid that make a person, well, a really good person to be around.

In Godin’s opinion, the heirachy of needs for the non-owner we mentioned above in a B to B situation are as follows:

First and foremost, avoiding risk…then, avoiding hassle…and then, gaining praise…and then, gaining power….and then, having fun….and, finally….making a profit.

So, there you are, hammering away at “making a profit” and all the time, what’s going through the non-owner’s head is “…what if there is some risk here that I can’t see, and something goes wrong, and I get in trouble, and I lose my job, and then I can’t make my house payment, and I lose my car, and then I can’t pay my kid’s expenses to go to college, etc….etc….etc…

And, until you figure this out and guide and explain things to your customer so they can get through the first 5 things that are more important to them than the one thing you’re focusing on, you might as well be banging your head up against a brick wall for all the good it’s doing you to explain the one thing that actually makes sense in this situation.

So, it does us all good to remember….if we’re dealing with somebody, or some company, or some institution, and what they’re saying or doing seems to be simply unreasonable, or out of the realm of common sense, or even ludicrous, or maybe even downright stupid, it’s a good bet that you haven’t yet figured out what the real agenda is in regard to the situation at hand.

Learn from yesterday….Live for today….Look forward to tomorrow