Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fear and education

When buying motorcycle gear, you will quickly learn that there are many choices. This is a good thing, it means sellers have studied and segmented the market to cater to a variety of choices. It also makes shopping a confusing experience for a newbie.

I've found many online forums with excellent advice. But if you are new, the best way to select gear is to touch and feel it. I've been to a couple of stores, the customer service has been excellent, with knowledgeable staff willing to patiently explain the smallest details.

However, every one of them turned to fear when persuading me to upgrade to a higher priced option of a product. They paint gory "what if" scenarios and quote case studies of how a product saved a customer's life. One of them told me that he does not get paid a commission so his advice is keeping my best interest in mind. This is not totally plausible, because a higher price means higher margins, and perhaps a reward in the form of monthly bonuses.

They do this out of concern, but they also do this because this is how they have been taught, and because they do not known how to educate differently.

The best sales people will explain the risk of choosing one quality level over another, and they will encourage you to decide for yourself. They will have an opinion, but they will explain how they arrived at their opinion, and not force you to follow it.

Using Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) is a poor strategy, because it breeds more FUD, and does not promote clear thinking. Customers will eventually figure out what works and what does not. Sales people who use FUD will have lost credibility and future business. In a small market, this is not the way to build relationships and recurring revenue streams from a customer.

Come to think of it, this is true in all endeavors that involve danger and risk.

Kids enter a "twilight zone" as they become teenagers. Frustrated parents use fear to try and get thru to them. In this fast paced world, and with no proper training, most parents do not have the patience or skill to communicate and coach their kids. It works out in the end for many for some kids, but other kids take longer than they should to learn life lessons.

In the workplace, manipulative bosses and co-workers use fear to influence and get things done. This is so pervasive you cannot be faulted for thinking this is normal.

What can you do about it? First, become aware of your fears. This is not easy, it is hard work, and requires you to face the truth about yourself. Second, do something about it. I'll have more to say on the latter shortly.