Understanding ‘the law of cause and effect’ will lead to success for your customers and your practice.
One of the most difficult lessons for staff of an optical practice to learn is to resist the temptation to use detail when making recommendations to patients and customers… rather than to start by focusing on the positive ‘outcome’ being sold.
In a court of law, the prosecution and defence never start with ‘details’ relating to their respective cases; instead, they each start with a single assertion of guilt or innocence, followed by efforts to prove their case. I am faced with a similar responsibility when writing an article such as this one, in the sense that the headline will usually take up less than 2 per cent of the words contained in the essay… and yet it is the headline that captures or loses the attention of people at the very start!
Try to imagine an article that features a headline consisting of several hundred words, remembering that the article you are reading features a headline with just six words. It sounds ridiculous, and yet this is how some retailers try to sell to customers.
Resist the temptation to use detail when making recommendations to customers
Aim to Project Value
The aim of selling, or ‘up-serving’ as I prefer to call it, is to project an ability to be potentially valuable, as opposed to demonstrating an ability to be voluble. The law of ‘cause and effect’ must be clearly understood by staff, not simply in terms of the fact that action creates results, but appreciating that when we present ideas to customers we must work backwards from the result and not forwards from the action.
Here are some examples of how we, as human beings, almost always favour the effect of something… rather than the cause of it:
- We prefer the aroma of coffee to advertising about coffee
- We prefer looking at a menu rather than a recipe
- We prefer to hear what the weather will be, and not what will cause it to happen
- We prefer managers at meetings to state if we are winning or losing our business battles, rather than to tediously present detail about figures that send us to sleep and leave us without a sense of urgency (get the book ‘Real Leaders never do PowerPoint’, by Christopher Witt)
- We prefer school teachers to tell us that our children are ahead or behind in their work and results, followed by an explanation and then a strategy for achieving improvement
- We prefer to see and hear evidence of success, before we hear what caused it
- We prefer to have job candidates make a performance promise, before providing their lengthy résumés
- We prefer to see illustrations than to read descriptions (‘talking is silver, showing is gold!
- We prefer telesales people to get to the point immediately, and a positive point at that, rather than to start their calls by asking after our health (which only people we know are allowed to do!)
- We prefer politicians to state their case in a succinct and seductive way, rather than attempting to benefit by criticising or ‘bagging’ the ideas of their opponents
- We prefer doctors to start with news about our health after a diagnosis, and if the news is not good, then we expect to hear about how the problem can be fixed… rather than to have a build-up that leads to a let-down.
Refer to the End Result
This logic applies equally to patients and customers of an optometry practice, in the sense that people are moved more by the potential to achieve better personal eye care outcomes (or ‘effects’) than they are by detail relating to one or more forms of action.
In fact, when staff talk about ‘action’ they unwittingly present a threat of ‘change’, or rearrangement of what the customer already has in place… and I can assure you that the market prefers the devil it knows well (their current eye care habits and purchasing process), rather than the new devil revealed in ‘sales detail’.
Finally on this critical point, after you have started your recommendations with the end result that you are aiming to produce for the customer, keep referring back to the result being aimed for when explaining the details – otherwise the customer will forget the benefit that this information relates to.
The law of cause and effect was clearly understood by KFC when it first started, because it favoured the slogan ‘Finger lickin’ good Kentucky Fried Chicken’… and not ‘Technically dead Kentucky
John Lees is a sales and marketing specialist, operating as a professional speaker, trainer, consultant, business coach. He is the author of 11 books on business development. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.johnlees.com.au