Why do people go to college? Why do they get a job? At their core, the answers to these questions can be attributed to self-interest. You go to college so you can get a better or high paying job. You go to work to earn money so you can buy the things you want. We are all guided by self-interest.
Adam Smith said in his book “The Wealth of Nations” that
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”Adam Smith
In every negotiation, you must speak to the other person’s interest.
The term self-interest is often associated with negative connotations; however, it just means that you seek your goals. In fact, while self-interest leads you to work hard so you earn more money the work itself also produces value for society.
The loaf of bread that you buy at the supermarket is the result of hundreds of self-interested people cooperating at each step of production along the way. The farmer grew the grain, the mill ground the grain into flour, the bakery baked the bread, a truck driver delivered the bread to the store, the supermarket placed the loaf of bread on the shelf and sold it to the consumer. All were motivated by their own self-interest.
Since we all are guided in life by self-interest, a business needs to always consider the perspective of the customer in their value chain and craft a message that appeals to the customer’s self-interest.
As the owner of a documentation and training company I always made sure to appeal to my client’s self-interest. One way I did this was that I make it clear to my client that my job was to make them look good in the eyes of their boss. I told them to take credit for the project’s success; their only job was to make sure I got paid.
When you speak to a new customer, do you appeal to their self-interest and tell them what is in it for them?
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