Why More Than One Point of View Is Critical to Persuasion Success

The weather in Wisconsin is finally turning spring-like, and this past weekend’s 80-degree temperatures reminded me of a funny story about persuasion:

Although my wife and I enjoy fishing together, we are the antithesis of Bassmasters participants in that we fish from a pontoon boat complete with snacks and frequent naps. We basically put our living room on the water and call it sport. The one thing we do share with the pros is fancy “fish finder” technology. We, too, have one of these expensive black boxes that provide sonar‐created pictures of what’s under the boat.

Fast‐forward to a warm early-June morning as Amy piloted our pontoon living room through a tight channel on Wisconsin’s Whitewater Lake. While she kept a careful eye on the finder, I busied myself preparing the tackle for our day on the water. “Mark, we need to stop here,” Amy said excitedly, “I’ve never seen so many fish!”

“But we never fish here,” I growled like the character Quint in the movie Jaws, as I made my way to examine the sonar image.

It was an unbelievable sight. The underwater world around us was exploding with fish. Big fish, little fish and the most picturesque drop‐offs and covers. It was amazing. This was going to be a great day.

After two hours of fishless‐fishing we couldn’t understand what we were doing wrong. I studied the finder, still teeming with aquatic life.

We were fishing the simulation.

Yep, we had just spent two hours fishing the computer‐generated quintessential fishing paradise created by the marketing geniuses at Garmin!

All of which brings me to this: If you want to hear “yes” more often, you need to have the right “read” on the territory. To do that, practice convergent validity — that is, the idea of getting three points of view before you make a decision or take action. Don’t just take one customer’s viewpoint on your new product or service; get input from three customers. If there is a performance issue with your sales process, observe it for yourself, ask a customer about it and then go to someone else, too.

Trust me. The fishing will be better.