A Lesson on Creating Buyer Value

A Lesson on Creating Buyer Value

I recently had the great pleasure of fishing with my dear friend, Dr. Bill down in Florida. Dr. Bill is one of the top doctors in the country in his field. This fishing trip was similar to the countless others we had taken, where we spend the time catching up on life and discussing our professions. Even though he is in medicine and I work in a sales consulting company (Hey, I could have been a doctor, it was all that medical stuff that got in the way, HA!), our talks about work are extremely stimulating for both of us.

This past year was a bit of a nightmare for Dr. Bill. He spent the last twenty-plus years building a top practice in his field, recruiting, training and enabling numerous doctors. As the Managing Partner, he not only had significant duties as a physician but also ran all the operations. This practice thrived making all involved very wealthy.

Over the last few years, changes in the healthcare industry demanded every practice have an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) technology in place. Dr. Bill knew this was coming and he prepared his team for it in every possible way. There was going to be a significant cost to the implementation that would impact earnings for that year, but after that, they would be in an even better position to serve patients and create wealth for their own families.

They implemented the system, but unfortunately, when it came time to pay out earnings for the year, several of the docs got amnesia about the hit earnings were going to take. This frustration came even though Dr. Bill told them this would happen. They immediately blamed Dr. Bill for the shortcomings in earnings and began a plot to leave the practice, go out on their own and take patients with them. It was disloyal and selfish. Their actions would begin to rip the practice apart, and create huge challenges for patients and staff.

Dr. Bill was beside himself. At first, he tried to remind the other doctors of all the communication, preparations and care that was taken to prepare for the EMR system. He also explained how having this system benefited the practice by actually connecting them deeper with their affiliated hospitals. However, Dr. Bill's justification wasn't enough. The doctors continued to plot their departure.

Needless to say, Dr. Bill was hurt. He couldn't have predicted this shortsightedness and selfishness from his colleagues. They showed no appreciation for what he had provided for them over the last decade and worst of all, challenged his integrity by accusing him of misappropriating funds. I could see the look of anguish on his face as he told me this story. He said, “Man, I felt like such a sucker for doing all those things for them and then watching them do that to our team.”


Give and Take

Dr. Bill's story reminds me of a great book I read called “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success” by Adam Grant. The main theme of the book states, “The true measure of a human being is how they treat someone who can do them absolutely no good.”

People can be classified in one of three reciprocity styles:

  • Givers (do more for others)
  • Matchers (operate on quid-pro-quo basis)
  • Takers (look for personal gain at the expense of others).

The most interesting point for me in the book was the data that pointed to success and reciprocity styles. There is a high correlation between patterns of success/productivity and reciprocity styles. On the success ladder, the people at the bottom are givers. Surprisingly, the people at the top are also givers. The takers and matchers occupy the middle. The book highlights how giving enriches you in various ways and what differentiates givers at the bottom and the top.

How could there be givers at both the top and the bottom of the success ladder? This is the point I love the most in the book! Successful givers are every bit as ambitious as takers and matchers. They simply have a different way of framing and pursuing their goals. They do it in a way where it is easier to win if everybody wants you to win. I love this point because I have noticed something in leadership over the last 30 years of my career. I call it the “Wanna Factor”.


The "Wanna Factor"

The “Wanna Factor” is a trait that I have seen in the most elite leaders. They have the ability to get people to “wanna” not because they have the authority to do so, but because they have created genuine desire in an individual. The one being led by the “wanna” leader believes that the leader prioritizes the interests of others over exerting their own power or advancing their own agenda.

In his book, Grant refers to German Writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who stated, “When we treat a person as they are, we make them worse; when we treat them as if they already were what they potentially could be, we make them what they should be."

I have seen this occur many times in both my personal and professional life. I have seen high-powered sellers reach elite levels of performance under leaders with this mentality. I have also seen average students and athletes reach incredible levels of performance with the help of teachers and coaches who had a positive bias about their potential. Interestingly, the data suggests that Givers are the least likely to make the mistake of over-investing in people. I think this is because they are the most lucid about why they are making the investment and what they expect to get out of it.


Sales Talent Management

We at Force Management have seen this same idea play out in a company’s talent management strategy. The most effective leaders realize that when you help someone get promoted to another team or role, you experience a short-term loss, but a long-term gain. It's easier to attract top sales talent because word gets around that your philosophy is to develop and promote people for their own benefit, not yours.


Focusing on the Buyer

At Force Management, we have long understood that Givers make for great salespeople. Givers spend a lot of time understanding the needs of the buyer AND they are more likely to prioritize the other person’s well being. Grant calls this “The Art of Advocacy," which is the ability to lead you to my conclusion on your terms. As a salesperson, I want you to form these conclusions as your own in your mind because you will hold on to them more strongly. I recall a top lawyer describing this point well by stating, “I try to walk jurors up to that line, drop them off and let them make up their own minds."


Negotiating on Value

The most successful negotiators have a disposition of win-win vs zero-sum. However, many people conduct negotiations from a matching "tit for tat" point of view. Givers modify this idea to more of a “generous tit for tat." Like Abraham Lincoln said, “Never forget a good turn, but occasionally forgive a bad one.” So the most effective negotiators are givers. They're able to give more and take more by expanding the pie. When you approach negotiation as a process, you build value for each side throughout the sales cycle. You give more to the buyer because you've created enough business value in the opportunity.


The rest of the story…

So what happened to Dr. Bill? By now, I think you have figured out that Dr. Bill is a Giver. Like other Givers he was feeling used and abused. Why do some givers feel used and abused and others have renewed energy? It’s all about perspective.

Adam Grant calls this concept Motivation Maintenance and it's a key point that determines why some givers can keep giving and not burn out. Successful givers care about others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests. Grant says you combat giver burnout by outsourcing the task of providing inspiration to the end users and clients, who are impacted by your work, and can attest to the difference you make. Focus on the results of your giving behavior. Perception of impact serves as a buffer against stress. These all rang true in Dr. Bill’s story. His face lit up when he told me about the positive impact of his employees AND the positive impact his decision had on his own life and interests.

I knew this was going to be the case with Dr. Bill as I asked him to tell me the rest of the story. A few doctors left the practice and tried to take critical people with them. As you probably guessed, the staff did NOT go. Dr. Bill negotiated a new long-term partnership with a major hospital. Each and every employee’s life would get instantly better. Dr. Bill was working on this new partnership prior to the other docs starting a problem. So when it was time to do the deal, you would think that the major hospital had leverage because some docs had left the practice. If they did have leverage, they did not use it. The deal was just as lucrative as before. I believe the hospital watched all this turmoil unfold, noticed how Dr. Bill handled himself and wanted him and his team even more. Like the data says, in the end, the Givers always win. And what of the Takers? Their practice disintegrated in less than 18 months. They're forever now looking over their shoulders reflecting on what could have been.

So if you are a giver and feeling run over, all you need to do is change your perspective. Successful givers are different from the givers who burn out and stay at the bottom of the ladder in the following ways:

  • They recognize that their everyday choices shape the results they achieve in competitive, confrontational situations.
  • The dangers are not in the giving itself, but in adopting a single reciprocity style across all interactions and relationships.
  • They draw reserves of assertiveness from their commitments to the people who matter to them.
  • They learn to do ‘sincerity screenings’ for individuals.
  • They are good at identifying opportunities where they can maximize benefits to others at low costs to themselves.


I wish you good giving.

 #whatyoudomatters #beuncommon

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