Weekly Tip: The Elephant in the Room

I was in a great business meeting the other day with a potential business partner and at one point he said, “I think there is an elephant in the room. Tom, why are you in this conversation, I don’t see the fit. Tell me what you are thinking.” Great approach – straight honesty.

Sometimes it feels like we are all playing pretend. We pretend:

  • Competitor is not trying to steal our business when we meet with our customers
  • Price increase won’t affect the business relationship
  • Last month’s short-shipment isn’t making them mad

I like to get the elephant out on the table and open him up. Everyone knows he’s there, so let’s deal with it. I know, it can be risky. However, if I don’t know what the customer is thinking, it’s like flying blind at night without instruments – VERY RISKY.

Interesting Image

A couple simple rules:

1)   Open like my friend did and declare the elephant

2)   Acknowledge what can and cannot be done about it

3)   Ask, “What is the best way for us to proceed in this conversation and what do you want us to know so we can better serve you?”

It’s not easy, but it’s better than playing pretend.