Saturday, August 10, 2013

The D-Word

The next time someone is trying to sell you something you would do well to watch out for the D-Word. The D-Word is the secret weapon of closing. It is the most powerful word in marketing and advertising. It is the “winning word” for settling disagreements between friends, lovers and family members. Lawyers love to use the D-word in opening and closing arguments. It is the vote getting word in politics. It is the one word that puts your conscience to bed when you are making a bad choice. It’s the D-Word: D-E-S-E-R-V-E.

It’s a word I seldom use in the search business because I think it’s too dangerous. Furthermore, whether you are a candidate or a hiring authority, I have no clue as to what you may or may not deserve. Certainly, I want to know what’s motivating your decision. Why are we talking? If you are a candidate, what is motivating you to seek a new opportunity or even consider one? If you are a hiring authority, what is motivating you to hire someone for a certain position? I’ve written about these issues in the past and there is a lot to unpack in these questions. But, fundamentally, all motivations are driven by different levels of “want”. In the search business, all of my questions ultimately connect to your “wants”. What do you want? Why do you want? How much do you want? I love working with highly motivated people, either hiring authorities or candidates. Tire-kickers and window-shoppers don’t pay the rent. I want to work with people who are ready, willing and able to do business.

And no one is more motivated AND at risk than the person who believes they “deserve it”; whatever “it” is. If they think they deserve it, I know that I will have their undivided attention along with some personal baggage. The D-word is a double-edged sword. For instance, the candidate who is convinced that they deserve a certain position or a certain level of compensation is the most at risk for accepting a counter offer. There is an ego-factor embedded in “deserving” that translates into a need for acceptance. The candidate that likes their company, likes their boss, likes the people they works with, etc. etc.; but thinks they "deserve" a promotion, a raise, a bigger office, whatever…is the candidate who will flip for a counter-offer. The hiring authority who is convinced that their organization “deserves” a certain level of candidate is the one most likely to end up making a low-ball offer, promoting from within or just deciding not to fill the position.

The other problem with those who are motivated by getting what they think they deserve is that they almost never get enough. It’s tempting to entice candidates with phrases such as “you’ve worked hard and this is the job you deserve” or “you know you deserve more”. And what hiring authority doesn’t “deserve” to hire the very best candidate (aka my candidate.) The D-word is a great closer, but too often, the “buyer” ends up disappointed.

From personal experience, I’ve made decisions where the D-word was a secondary factor. Want and deserved. Need and deserved. Can afford and deserved. It’s the right thing and deserved. We all put ourselves on that pedestal from time to time. But, when the D-word was the primary reason for my choice, it has always turned out badly. So whatever decisions you are facing, be wary of the D-word. You might just get what you deserve.

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