What Happens When They Know Your Secret?

The Santa Story Cycle

Kevin McCallister: Okay. I know you’re not the real Santa Claus.
Santa Claus: [his beard is pulled down, revealing his real face] What makes you say that? Er, just out of curiosity.

Kevin McCallister: [to Santa’s helper] I’m old enough to know how it works. I also know that you work for him. I want you to give him a message …

Thats what Kevin McAllister tells the Santa on the sidewalk in the first Home Alone movie.

This is a process that Kevin and many children go through in their relationship with Santa Claus, presents and Christmas. They start out completely believing in the magic of Santa Claus. Then they turn to a slightly edited version of the story, because they want to believe. But eventually they arrive at a completely different version of reality. It’s still a great story and experience, but it’s very different than what we were told initially.

We discover the whole story. But we still want presents. And we still want to be surprised.

Business sales cycles often follow a similar path. How we move forward when people know everything about us is the question.

Believe The Magic

Our understanding and acceptance of truths ultimately impact what we believe. In the beginning prospects want to believe that your “X” will be the best and most magical thing ever. And that’s what you tell them. If the only time a person approaches perfection is their resume, the only time a company does is in their first series of sale contacts. This is a magical time–and customers want to believe! They have issues, pains, that need solved and you’re offering a solution. Of course they’re more than interested, they want to believe that this will be the savior, that you will take away their pain.

And of course, few things, even your spectacular offering, isn’t without some negatives. But you don’t reveal them now.

I Know How This Works

Eventually over time, some things won’t quite add up and customers will have questions. Much like Kevin can put together that a Santa with a fake beard in Chicago isn’t the “real” Santa from the North Pole, customers will begin to notice that some things aren’t as perfect as you’ve led them to believe. But they might be OK with it as long as they still get presents. That’s what really matters – will your solution do what it promises to do – and are the negatives small enough that they can be overcome.

While Kevin can believe a version that’s slightly different – satellite Santa Clauses – it’s not too long before the whole truth is out.

What Do You Mean You’re Santa?!?

As they get deeper and deeper into the process, they realize it’s not all silver and gold. And it’s not really magic. There will be some work to do. But it will still be worth all of the effort in the end. And actually, much of the feeling of satisfaction from the new solution will extend longer, if somewhat tempered. It’s much like parents get extended pleasure from planning gifts for their children.

As customers, the excitement is there, but it’s changed. But one thing hasn’t changed. Customers still want presents. They still want to be surprised (good unexpected surprises) by the decision they made to select your company. Don’t forget about them. Delight and surprise your customers with important things.

We know that Kevin is well on his way to completing his journey when the message he wants the Satellite Santa to deliver is the following:

Kevin: This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys. Nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie, and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. Okay?

He might not know all of the story, but he knows the important parts.

Sometimes that communication is a non-verbal tell, maybe just a look.

“I know you’re not the real Santa, but …”

The time is going to come when they know. The time to recognize and prepare for that moment is now. How will you explain your story?


This entry was posted in Business Marketing on March 16, 2016 by Devin Meister.