Selling Points: Rethinking squeaky wheel syndromeWritten by Tom Richard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
My car has been good to me over the years, but I have not returned the favor. It took a flat tire to finally get me to bring my combustion fired friend into the dealership for service, and I’m glad I finally did.
After pulling my vehicle into the service bay, my attention was wholly focused on fixing the flat tire. The well-trained technician put the vehicle on the lift, fixed the tire, and used his standard checklist to inspect the less obvious areas that may need some tender loving care.
Sure, the technician was just trying to sell me additional service, but had I let these other areas go, they would have broken down and left me with bigger problems in the immediate future.
People say that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but the wheel is only one piece of the puzzle. Behind every squeaky wheel lies a dozen other things that need to be checked — things that do not squeak.
In business, we only pay attention to things that squeak; we ignore the less audible areas of the business. Whether that squeaky wheel is a person, a price or an explanation, how many times have you seen your colleagues, managers or customers focus on one silly little detail? Instead of looking at the bigger picture, their attention stays obsessively focused on the area making the most noise. Do you do the same thing with your attention?
To get things done at work, we need the support of people around us. Whether we’re talking about colleagues or customers, gaining agreement from a group requires having its attention first.
So, if you are trying to direct the attention of your colleagues or customers to a situation, a detail, or an idea of yours, you have a decision to make because there are two different approaches you can take.
Your first option is to become the squeaky wheel. Squeaky wheels get oiled, flat tires get replaced, and loud people get heard.
The second option is to act like the well-trained technician. When a person keeps pointing at their flat tire, you can calmly acknowledge the tire will be fixed, you can put the vehicle on the lift, and you can go through your checklist and inspect the less obvious areas that may need some tender loving care.
If you have the cool, calm and collected checklist to guide your inspection, squeaky wheels and flat tires provide wonderful opportunities to look at the bigger picture. Squeaky wheels help you insert yourself into the conversation, and inserting yourself into the conversation is your opportunity to add value, to sell additional service, and to demonstrate your abilities to solve problems.
The next time you catch a conversation going in the wrong direction, pause. Pausing allows you to recognize that you have the vehicle up on the lift where you can see things you would not normally be able to see.
Remember, it isn’t every day that a person brings their vehicle in for service, and it isn’t everyday that you can have a conversation about how to improve a situation. However, if you get sucked into talking about the flat tire, you’ll miss the opportunity to point out the other obvious areas for improvement.
The bottom line is, nobody likes working with (or buying from) a squeaky wheel, so do not become the annoying squeaky wheel. However, you encounter squeaky wheel opportunities everyday. These opportunities give you a platform to walk through your big-picture checklist; they give you the attention you need to gain agreement from the group, to redirect attention to otherwise silent areas, and to demonstrate your professional competencies.
Yes, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but the technician that fixes the problem gets the sale.
For sample solution checklists and verbiage, visit www.boltfromtheblue.com and enter the word SQUEAKY into the blue print box.