Generous AND commercially smart

My friend Howard responded to last week’s blog asking me to write about being generous and commercially smart.

 He said:

 [Could you write] about how not to give it all away? I personally have struggled with this for years, I love to help. I love to teach and I often give so much away that there may be no reason for them to commercially engage. 

It’s a great question. Before people have committed, which in our context usually means they have paid for a program, we are often doing them a disservice by teaching too much. We think we are being generous, but we’re actually not.

What should be free is a lot of why, but not a lot of how.

Howard is a sales strategist. My counsel to Howard is to show people why they should be more strategic about how they do sales. What are all the impacts of transforming their sales process. What are the problems with “business as usual.” What will happen if they keep going on their current trajectory. What’s the journey from being tactical to strategic that he can take them on.

Once they have committed to that journey, then Howard should give them the how. How to go about being more strategic. What the steps they should take are. Before they have committed to the journey, this stuff doesn’t help. It won’t get implemented, and it won’t make any difference. It’s not commercially smart, and I don’t think it’s even generous to give too much too soon.

As an aside, I think schools have the same problem. Often, they get stuck into the how from the get-go without spending much if any time on the why. We spend weeks learning how to do differential calculus without any time spent on why we should learn it. And if the only answer for why is that it’s on the test, it probably shouldn’t be on the curriculum.