Those famous words, meant to convey that the approach you just suggested won’t work. They tried it and it failed. But you know that it CAN work because you’ve seen it work many times in other companies and now you want to help them overcome their legitimate objection and try it again. How the heck do you do that? Here’s my prescription:
- Ask them to thoroughly explain their previous attempt so that you understand all of the facts and dynamics. Listen in a non-judging way to their perceptions and views and ask follow-on questions so that you really understand all the key moving parts. If you genuinely care about helping them and they perceive that you are listening very carefully in order to understand their perception, most people can get past their ego attachment to being right and will listen to your counsel.
- Ask yourself the following questions regarding their failed effort:
- Did they do the right things and/or did they miss any key steps?
- For the steps they did right, was the sequence, quantity and duration adequate? If they did the right thing but not enough of it, that will fail. If the order was wrong, that will fail too
- For the steps they missed, are there any good reasons why they can’t do them
- Now pose the questions to them for which you require more information and, when you are ready, give them an example of a successful effort that included the components they missed and reassure them that you’ll help them be successful this time.
Many businesses refuse to do things that would benefit them because they tried and failed. If you are one of those businesses, consider the possibility that the strategy was right but it was your execution that fell short.
Success is available to those with great products/services, smart plans and a commitment to excellence in execution.