The Day I Washed A Poop Covered Cow...
Updated: Mar 10
and what I learned about solving problems in a smelly barnyard...
I was a newly minted member of a MLM organization (whose name shall not be mentioned but you might be able to guess it as you read on) and was anxious to start making some sales of "product" to secure my place in the pantheon of recently minted/up-and-coming business owners.
Among the amazing products in my MLM arsenal was a cleaner which made the claim that it would "make water wetter" - and who doesn't like their water to be as wet as it can be? I decided that I would find a way to utilize this amazing product in a sales demonstration that would land me a decent sized purchase. The thought behind the virtue of making water "wetter" was that it allowed you to use less of water based compounds by reducing the surface tension (the bond that makes a drop of water a drop of water). Things like detergents work better with the addition of "surfactants" since they make it easier for water to penetrate the fabric. They can also make water more easily absorbed into solutions and more likely to stay put on slippery surfaces. Armed with this information, I started to look for a customer who would value these properties and allow me to ring the cash register!
I knew a farmer who had a small milking operation and thought he might be the ideal candidate for my amazing product and we set a date for me to show up at his farm to do some "show and tell". I was pretty pumped because I knew he had a lot of potential applications for "wetter water" but when he asked me what I was coming to demonstrate, I kept it purposefully vague to ensure he didn't tell me "no" before I had a chance to amaze him...
I arrived at his farm at the appointed time and started to explain the amazing properties of my product. The concept I was trying to explain was new and unfamiliar and I needed to show him some tangible benefits - but how? I looked around the barn and saw his cows; large poop-stained cows that had just been milked. Eureka!
I suggested that I could demonstrate how "wetter water" would reduce reduce the use of detergent and asked where I could find a bucket and a brush? He obliged me with the tools I needed and in short order I was in the middle the barnyard, washing off the biggest, most poop-covered cow I could find. The cow was not exactly enjoying the process and as it moved around to avoid my cleaning efforts, I kept getting more poop-covered myself. Soon, however, I had made the cow virtually poop-free and called the farmer over to show him the result of my diligent efforts - a slightly irritated but well cleaned cow that stood out from all the other drab and dirty bovines in that enclosure.
Time to move into the "C" of my ABC (Always Be Closing) methodology - how much of my amazing product would he like to buy? His answer was swift and painful - Zero, Zip, Nada, None. Not today and not tomorrow and as far as he could imagine - not ever! Imagine my surprise when he told me he was completely uninterested in purchasing my amazing product despite the shiny, clean cow standing 5 feet away from him...
The Moral of the Story
What was the lesson I learned on that hot, smelly Summer afternoon? I learned that your solution only has value if it solves an acknowledged problem of your "customer".
I had shown my farmer friend that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, my product could really useful in cleaning his cow(s). I had demonstrated that his cow(s) could be cleaned in a cost effective, highly efficient and environmentally friendly manner.
The reality was: he didn't care if his cow was clean or if it wasn't clean. In his mind, it wasn't a problem if his cow was poop covered or not. 10 minutes after I had washed his cow, it walked across the field and then reclined in - wait for it - a pile of poop! Clean no longer...
A "clean cow" did not solve any of the problems my farmer friend was concerned about:
It wasn't healthier
It didn't grow faster
It didn't eat less feed
It doesn't emit less methane (via flatulence)
It didn't require less care and attention
Most importantly, it didn't give more milk
Are you busy solving problems you think are important or are you absolutely clear on what your clients, customers, staff or constituents think their important problems are? This might be a good time to pause and ask some questions, because the more clearly you know what is causing pain in others, the better you can align the products or services you're offering to eliminate that pain. The better the alignment, the easier you make it to be selected. And being selected is everything...
The perfect answer to a question no one is asking is as worthless as a freshly washed cow to a practical dairy farmer.
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