Appropriate Solutions Yield Amazing Results

    August 14, 2003

A number of years ago, I was asked to bid on a very large training contract. I assumed, as there were lots of good consultant/trainers running around, that I was in a very competitive situation and therefore, the only thing that mattered to the customer was the price. Thus, I decided I would lower my already low asking price by 25 percent in order to make sure I would have a fighting chance to land this job. The first order of business was to go to the city where the corporate headquarters was located and meet with the corporate staff that had the authority to hire me.

When I arrived at the corporate headquarters, I was met in the lobby by one of the members of the corporate staff who informed me that the meeting would start a half hour later than originally scheduled. This individual apologized for inconveniencing me and took me to his office where he told me to make myself at home until the meeting started.

As it turned out, this staff person had a secretary who was very friendly and personable. After we had talked for a while, I felt comfortable asking her some questions about the training program. When I asked if her company had ever conducted such a training program in the past, she told me they had during the previous year, but it had ended in disaster. She went on to say that the instructors had done such a poor job that the program participants had gotten up and walked out before noon on the first day of the program. In addition, she informed me that the corporate staff was really under the gun to find a quality instructor this time, because the president himself was going to sit in on the program to make sure it was done right. She also volunteered that because one of the staff members had attended one of my seminars during the previous year, I was the only person they were considering for the job!

As you can see, my initial assumptions could not have been more wrong. This staff’s main concern was not low price; it was whether or not I would make them look good enough in front of the president to get them out of his “dog house”. If I could convince them that I would do just that, the job would be mine and price would not even be an issue (as long as it was within reason). I immediately raised my asking price by 50 percent and quickly developed a strategy to convince the corporate staff that I was their guy. At the end of the meeting, I was given the job and the price I asked was not even questioned.

The lesson here is, once you figure out what’s really important to the people who stand between you and success or failure, getting them to pay premium prices is really easy.

Not long ago, I ran into a friend who told me that the high school principal had just called her to say he was sending her teenage son home because of a behavioral problem.

Although it was probably none of my business, I asked her how she planned to deal with the situation. She told me she planned to sit down at the kitchen table that evening with her husband and her son and they were going to work out a solution to the problem once and for all. Then she asked me what I thought. I told her that it was my assessment that her son more likely needed some positive attention from his mom and dad rather than a lecture.

At first this woman became rather defensive at the notion that she and her husband didn’t give their son enough positive attention. I then asked if she ever visited her son in his room. She responded that she did so at least a half-dozen times a week. I asked if most of the visits were pleasant and relaxed, or confrontational in nature– “your room’s a mess, your report card is awful and your study habits are terrible.”

She quickly admitted that almost all her visits to her son’s room were confrontational. I pointed out that if this were the case, her son didn’t even like it when she entered his room because he knew it would be an unpleasant experience. She then asked me what she should do. I suggested she and her husband each spend fifteen minutes alone with their son every night for the following two weeks, talking about whatever their son wanted to talk about, without hassling him about anything. I also asked them not to bring up the school problem until after these two weeks were over. In addition, I asked them to go out of their way on a couple of occasions to make their son feel special.

Ten days later, I ran into this woman again. She told me that both she and her husband had done exactly what I had recommended. She did admit, however, it had taken her a few evenings to get used to going into her son’s room and not hassling him. They also had gone out of their way to make him feel special by taking him to an electronics show that he was very interested in. She went on to say that as a result of all this, the problem at school had taken care of itself. It was never even brought up. She also told me that on the previous day, her son had come home from school and said to her, “Guess what happened in school today, Mom?” She said that he hadn’t said anything like that since the first grade!

What this story illustrates is that amazing results can be achieved when you apply an appropriate solution to the true problem.

Ross R. Reck, Ph.D.
Author of The X-Factor: Getting
Extraordinary Results From Ordinary People