Copyright © 2014 Bill Gager
Lately I’ve been reading Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. For fun I thought I’d take a crack at Blog Noir.
So here I was–staked out on another case. I walked into the store, watching. If looks could kill, I would’ve dropped dead in the doorway. From behind her counter, Jen’s eyes pierced me with a deathly stare. I was cast adrift in yet another situation with lackluster sales. Go figure. Just another face in the crowd on a dead end street–you know the story.
I was workin for a client. Sent to transform his stalled out service centers into a finely tuned retail machine. A junkyard dog of a Chevy into a high tech Porsche, so to speak… Here I walked into that store as a messenger of change. With this change came the requirement for the agents to actually begin selling. Oh yeah. Change is always a touchy subject. And, as a messenger of change, Jen wanted to shoot the messenger–me.
As I walked up to Jen, her eyes narrowed; takin on a look of deep suspicion. I felt the waves of resistance roll off her like heat off blacktop on an August afternoon in Phoenix. Whew. Jen had been especially resistant to change. The notion was going over like a lead balloon stuck in quicksand.
Despite her attempts to banish me, I ventured a hopeful “Good Morning.” Eyes rolled upward into her head, mumbling unintelligibly, Jen abruptly cast down her eyes. Suddenly, she seemed to find her computer monitor beyond fascinating.
Not to worry, I says to myself. Time to try another angle, “Gee, I thought I’d stop by today to see if we can figure out a way to help you pay off your wedding dress faster.”
Well, in a New York second–Jen’s world stopped on a thin dime. In the space of a breath, an hour passes. With a happy turn, her face lights up. She smiles and says, “How are we gonna do that?”
Part two: The Secret of the M-Key
Two weeks prior to this event, I met with Jen and her sales cohorts. Each agent disclosed his or her secret motivational key, or M-Key for short. Jen’s M-Key was, “to pay off my wedding dress.”
An M-Key is a word or phrase that, when spoken, sparks an instant emotional connection with the listener. A person can then use this word or phrase as a code. Emotional meaning attached to this code goes beyond any logical definition of the words themselves. In Jen’s case, her wedding dress was the symbol that codified the complex set of emotions she felt regarding her upcoming wedding.
M-Keys are tied to whatever is most pressing, and important to the person with whom you are speaking. Are you catching my drift here? M-Keys provide a means to accomplish the two most important, yet difficult things to achieve when you are communicating:
-Grab the listener’s attention
-Establish an instant emotional connection.
Do you wan to know the secret to being a great communicator? Here it is, folks– and it is so simple: Every word paints a picture, and every picture tells a story. Do you want to know the next secret? Again, simple: Paint a picture people will care about. You see, the problem is–we often paint a picture with our words about which a person couldn’t care less!
How often have you been trapped, captive, in some sad audience… falling half asleep… while the speaker shares a vision having little or no meaning for you? Eyes drooping, you toss and turn to the hum of words that serve only to disconnect you further. The speaker, as leader, drones on about his vision–to increase revenue by 15%. Yet, he fails to understand your M-Key; your emotional motivation. You are part of his front line team. You are part of the flight crew being prepared for a lift off. Your leader emotionally connects to his motivation to increasing revenue. Yet, his flight is doomed– never to take off– for he has failed to emotionally connect with you, his front line team…
The beauty of using the words of a person’s M-Key is: An M-Key automatically triggers the perfect picture–the one the listener cares most about. This way, we connect our intention to the emotions of the person we rely upon to achieve our purpose/goal.
Another year, another case… So, I meet with Bob, President of a wealth management firm. I intend to sign his company as a client. During our 90-minute conversation, he says, “Get to $95 million in new business revenue”–a hundred times. What ignited his passion every time he said these words? He poured a lifetime of emotional connection into that M-Key, thus encoding it. What was the reason behind Bob’s lifetime of emotional connection? — Bob’s deep love for his family, and his desire to provide them with the best life he could.
Taking extra time, paying close attention to Bob’s motivation, proved to be powerful. A strong, united bond was created between us– A shared purpose. Oh– and by the way–Bob’s company provided me with my (then) single largest contract ever! I was able to connect my intention of his becoming my client to achieving his M-Key.
Here’s a tip: Truly listen to people. You will hear them repeatedly say the words–the M-Keys– which will enable you to achieve your intention with their M-Keys. Just as you are there to support another, he/she can support you in the achievement of your intention with his/her M-Key. Got it? I proclaim this case closed!
I have found, if you listen to people, you will hear them repeatedly say the words–the M-Keys–that will enable you to link the achievement of your intention with his/her M-Key. This facilitates your ability to influence a person(s) to support you in the achievement of your intention. Let’s take a look at the different situations in which M-Keys can make all the difference:
A sales leader makes it his first priority to identify each new sales person’s M-Key when they come on board. He uses those M-Keys to position the execution of the sales behaviors that will insure success. His contribution played a pivotal role in his region going from worst to first in the national rankings of a Fortune 50 company.
A top performing sales rep prospects business owners by using an M-Key that is universal to his medium sized business owner prospects: more control over the future of their business. Once he sets an appointment he uses that appointment to identify the business owner’s personal M-Key. He then links his intended solution to the owner’s ability to achieve that M-Key.
One of my clients asked me speak at their national sales meeting. It was held on a cruise to Mexico. I was looking forward to the opportunity until I found out I was on the agenda for 9 a.m. on Sunday morning following an all day beach party on Saturday.
I found myself in front of 400 hung over sales people! Fortunately, I happened to be boarding the ship on Saturday evening when the busses returned with the partygoers. I witnessed the senior vice-president on his stateroom balcony shirtlessly singing at the top of his lungs. I opened my talk by positioning my message as helping the audience to return next year to see what the SVP would sing then. The audience went from sullen and hung over to laughing and cheering.
Using the right words–the M-Key–is worth a thousand random pictures. It enables you to instantly connect to the picture that is most important to the listeners– theirs.
Bill Gager is a consultant, coach, and speaker who helps organizations and individuals to communicate to influence the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of others. http://gager360.com