< View all issues of Sphere

From Warm to Frosty in Ten Seconds

Thanks to my wife doing a design favour for a friend, I was recently enjoying the benefits of a freebie guest pass at a local spa. And to pinch a major retail brand’s slogan “this is no ordinary spa, this is a Four Seasons spa”. I know, great eh. And only a 10 minute drive from home.

As idyllic as it may sound, I do have a genuine phobia of towelling robes. So a spa day is quite a challenge for me. Of course, my wife thinks that’s hilarious and ridiculous. Just because it’s not the traditional spiders, snakes or flying doesn’t make it any less traumatic.

Anyhow, after the swim and the jacuzzi and the loafing I’m chilling out by getting very hot in the sauna. Just one chap in there but after a short while we were joined by a father and teenage son. The father went straight to the water bucket by the hot coals and asked: “Do you mind if I put this on?” I replied: “I’ve just put some water on”, but he went ahead and put a ladle-full on anyway. “Not with this in it” he said as the smell of eucalyptus engulfed us.

“That was a ‘fait accompli’ rather than a question then”, I commented. His assumptive response was “you haven’t lived in the mountains”, so I pointed out that actually I had. Anyway, he only lasted a couple of minutes as the atmosphere turned frosty.

You probably think my point is going to be a standard one about listening but for me in this case it was actually something else: that if you don’t establish a shared goal between all parties there’s no commitment.

This applies to so many aspects of sales – from a simple establishing what a customer wants to achieve from a meeting, a demo or PoC to what they want to achieve from a project, the operational outcome and how this fits with their business objectives.

Once these are established there’s no more persuading, no more chasing and no more taking responsibility for overcoming objections or building a business case. We are working together, with the customer, to achieve the desired outcome.

The daft thing was that in the sauna scenario there was a “shared goal” for the taking, because I love eucalyptus and could have been totally on board!


PS. My tubes are nice and clear after the eucalyptus.

PPS. Do you have a phobia that your nearest and dearest thinks is hilarious?

PPPS. Amusing Youtube clip of weird phobias.