Sell em' what they want, give 'em what they need

I'm running a series of one-day "Time Management for Professionals" workshops for a very cool IT company this week. Brisbane Monday, Sydney yesterday, Melbourne today and tomorrow, day off on Friday to talk at Melbourne TEDx and then Adelaide next Monday and Tuesday.

I was recommended for the gig by a good friend of mine who they had originally asked, but he's now in America, so he suggested me. But here's the thing, I'm in to implementation, and projects that matter, not traditional time management. But they were in the market to buy a time management workshop. So that's what I sold.

But the first thing I say in the workshop is that you can't manage time. The game is to be more productive, successful and fulfilled, and we do that by managing activity, energy and relationships, and then we have a much broader conversation about how to do that. It includes implementing projects that matter, thought leadership, difficult conversation, motivation and a whole lot of things I'm interested in (and I throw in a little bit of regular time management in too).

Unfortunately no-one is buying implementation workshops, they are buying time management. So that's what I sell. The way I do it is clean - in the initial meeting I say that I do time management a bit differently and explain what I do. Ultimately my approach gives them what they need to get the result they want.

My good friends at One Thousand and One, Gabrielle and Yamini, had a similar experience. They run world-class story telling programs, and for years they have resisted running presentation workshops. Clients have asked for them, but they have been saying no, it's not what we do. Recently they said yes, but explained that how they teach presentation skills is based around story telling. And bingo, they are selling a lot more story telling workshops.

Love to hear your thoughts and experiences - where are you trying to sell something different than the market is buying? You can leave your comments below.