Sizing Up People: Automatic Vs. Manual

Kelly Shibari

I recently read an interesting exchange between a couple of people on Twitter and it got me thinking about how some businesses treat their customers.

The conversation went something like this:

Caveat emptor is something we’re taught, but what about for the seller? Is there a caveat venditor?

Girl: “My BF doesn’t understand. I wish I had a manual to give him.”

Guy: “Girls come with manuals? I thought they only came in automatic!”

As funny as the guy was trying to be, it made me think. Do people assume that others come in “automatic”? What about companies?

The great thing about technology is that it’s allowed us to do more, faster. We’ve become a society where we can create more, accomplish more, and multitask like never before. The downside of technology is that we expect everything to take less and less time. It’s created a society where we demand instant gratification all the time, no matter what the scenario. It’s made us impatient, quick to judge and rush to conclusions.

I see so often people claiming to be “entrepreneurs” who don’t see the value in investing for the long haul. Working on relationships. Taking the time to get to know someone before approaching them with a business proposal. We’ve become an instant society of speed-dating, speednetworking, and rushing to bed each other (both literally and figuratively). And if a relationship or sale doesn’t happen quickly enough, impatience and anger tend to be the end result. Tactics are changed, goals are altered. If money can’t be made via Option A within two weeks, then scrap Option A and go with Option B. If you won’t buy what I’m selling, then not only am I going to sell it to someone who’s willing to buy it, but shun you as well.

Is that even remotely healthy? Is that even remotely successful?

Sometimes, it’s true that working on Option A means that you realize that Option B is better. Change, evolution, and adaptation are important keys in order to reach longterm success. However, bouncing from option to option and idea to idea like a kid with ADD after a sixpack of Mountain Dew means that either you’re unfocused or looking for the quick money. And most of us know, quick money leaves just as quickly as it was made. You end up worn out, burnt out, and often times, bitter and angry because none of the schemes worked out in the long run.

People don’t come in automatic. You can’t shove them into “buy” mode just because you’re hurting for business. Yes, I’m sure that from time to time you’re going to get that person who’s got the urge for an impulse buy. But much like hooking up with a guy (or girl) at a nightclub one night without a first date, it rarely lasts. You find out over time all the flaws that came with that impulse buy. You realize there was probably a reason that sale was pushed on you in the first place — that if you were given the time to think about it, you probably would have never bought that item.

Caveat emptor is something we’re taught, but what about for the seller? Is there a caveat venditor?

It’s important to remember the art of the “slow,” even when it comes to things like social media marketing. That the best relationships, personal and in business, are developed over time. Trust, loyalty, and support come from repeated positive experiences that result in an educated judgment call by the consumer that the product, and the business behind it, are trust-worthy, and as a result, worthy of their hard-earned cash.

So take a moment. Are you treating your customers as if they’re in automatic? Are you assuming that just because they are a certain way (male, female, white, black, asian, gay, straight, etc) that making that sale is instant? Are you just throwing up post after post, expecting the consumer to be so awed by it that they’re instantly going to click and buy? Or are you taking the time to get to know the consumer/client/person, starting out in first gear, and then working your way up?