Imagine I said to you, “Here! Try this cookie out, it’s a bleak, gluten-free piece of cardboard that is flavorless as dirt.”
You would give me a fake smile, hey, no thanks I'm not too hungry.
I know you're familiar with this:
A fake-as-hell smile
Insincerely paying attention to a boring story
The false-promise to "get together sometime."
I have done all this … and worse.
oh, if I recently did this to you … sadly, this is not the apology you were waiting for.
That’s some cold truth right there.
Don't we all wish we could blurt out the cold truth in every situation. Super cold. Cold as a witches bosom.
– “Hey Susan, I have neither the time nor the crayons to explain this to you.”
– “Look, John, if I wanted to kill myself, I’d just climb up to the top of your ego and jump off.”
That would be fun. But also unprofessional and therefore costly. My mistakes in this area have cost about $1 million/per incident, so I'm cutting back.
But it brings up a great question, is there any business case out there for using the COLD TRUTH?
Here’s one. You have probably seen the Girl Scout who sold 16,000 boxes of cookies in less than a week, breaking every single sales record they have. There’s a video about all this that has been going viral lately.
How was it done? She was brutally honest about the product. She says “the way” Girl Scout cookies are described on the boxes is “false advertising”.
So she gave all of the flavors her own descriptions.
She called one cookie “a bleak, flavorless gluten-free wasteland.”
And finished, “it is flavorless as dirt.”
Yeah, just like that. She “disparaged” some of her own products which in turn led to more sales. Not a little more revenue, but a record breaking amount.
Should we disparage some of our products in order to sell others? At first glance, it seems unprofessional. But there's a method here worth trying.
It’s a tactic that’s been studied for decades called The Stealing Thunder Effect.
Dozens of studies have found that if you disclose something negative about your product or company it makes you appear more credible and trustworthy.
But don’t rush off and do this with reckless abandon, there are guidelines to follow.
Frist, understand The Stealing Thunder Effect:
Stealing thunder is a social influence tactic in which you chose to reveal negative information before it is necessary to do so, or before it is discovered. By doing so, the negative impact is reduced or, in some cases, eliminated.
IN PRACTICE (and here’s how the pros use it.) To establish credibility and trustworthiness with a potential buyer, mention a few negative aspects of your offer during your opening statements.
WARNNING. Do not try to put a spin on these negatives and make them sound better. That will cancel the effect.
DON’T GET FANCY. Openly acknowledge that your product has some weaknesses.
What you’re working on is changing the meaning of the negatives. The goal here is help the buyer understand that the negatives are not that bad.
Why would you be bringing it up if it were truly bad?
The goal is to have the buyer convince himself the negative information is helpful, and you have been helpful by disclosing it.
Is this some kind of shady jedi trickery? No way.
While stealing thunder might indeed seem like a high risk strategy, attempting to conceal information is not only unethical – it's also impossible.
Every good trial lawyer will use this. If you’re convicted of a crime, and your defense laywer doesn’t use the Stealing Thunder tactic, you can rot in jail for eternity, as the jury finds out what a loser you are from the prosecution.
In Private Equity markets, I have worked on hundreds of deals, and found out the hard way:
1. IF an investor finds a piece of negative information on their own,
2. they’ll be frustrated we didn’t highlight it in our pitch.
3. they become distrustful, and then
4. over scrutinize everything, every small detail …
5. Until the deal falls apart because there is no trust between the parties.
Investors and buyers of all types want to know you are capable of disclosing and discussing both the positives and negatives of your product.
Doing so is a huge step towards building trust and credibility.
Are there steps to follow?
Actually, it’s really easy. I break down the three steps in on my blog. Click here to get the three steps.
I tell CEO's and executives to "steal thunder" and take it seriously because negative information about you or your product always comes out. Always.
And it doesn't take long to do so. Most Buyers are googling you and the company while you’re talking. Certainly all investors do this.
When they “catch” you covering something up, and then you try to put a spin on the information, it makes the buyer feel that you are being a bit untruthful.
So best to take a few minutes to learn 3-basic ways to use the Stealing Thunder Effect.
The Pro's in your business definitely know how this works. If you could see them pitch, you'd see first hand that disclosing a negative always helps to establish credibility.