Oranges, Trust, and Relinquishing Control

"Sweet Unto You" by Lauren Hammond

Bliss for Business

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"Sweet Unto You" by Lauren Hammond
“Sweet Unto You” by Lauren Hammond

It’s really hard to trust people.

It’s even harder to trust people you don’t know.

And yet, that’s what business is. An ongoing, daily exchange of trust. As bloggers and business owners, we ask people to trust us every day. Trust our insights, trust our knowledge, trust our experience and our ability to not lead them astray.

Placing trust in someone or something is a leap of faith. It says “I’m giving up a little bit of control”, exposes your soft underbelly. It’s vulnerable. It’s a little strange. It’s a lot of things, really, but it’s that control issue that I think makes it harder for entrepreneurial spirits, trying to control our outcomes and grasp at data that shows us which way to go next.

Because trust isn’t a one-way street. For as much as potential customers and clients need to trust us, we need to trust them as well.

Have you ever encountered a website (or other marketing medium) that’s dripping in in-your-face, buy-it-now, last-chance-to-save sales copy? Marketing and advertising that preys on your fears and impulses rather than meeting a need or filling a niche?

I used to scoff at these tactics (before I ran far, far away). But over the years, I’ve started seeing them as a control grab, a mark of insecurity, a lack of trust in their potential clients.

Fun scenario time.

Imagine that you’re in a room with a stranger. On the table between you are an apple and an orange. You own an orange grove, so clearly you want that person to choose, eat, and enjoy the orange, in hopes that they’ll eat more down the line.

What do you say?

"Orange" by Josue Goge
“Orange” by Josue Goge

Do you talk about the poisonous virtues of some varieties of apples, how you bit through a worm in an apple as a kid, and how the orange will only be fresh for another 2 minutes so they’d better eat up, all the while slowly sliding the orange toward them and the apple off the edge of the table?

No, right? That’d be silly. It’s freaking _fruit_, after all.

Do you chat up all the values of oranges – their juiciness, their tartness, all the things you can do with the peel after you’ve eaten the flesh, all oranges all the time?

Sounds a little more like it, right? After all, show them the good parts of what you’ve got, and you can sway them to your side.

Or do you chat with them about their morning, see what they’re looking for in a fruity snack, and then offer up ways that an orange might help?

I can hear the cries of “but but but!” from all around me. “But you might lose the sale!” “But they might eat the apple!” “But you might end up not talking about fruit at all!”

To which I say “yep.”

That final scenario involves trust. Trusting that the person on the other side of the table actually knows what’s best for them, knows what they want for breakfast, knows whether or not an orange is a good choice for them right now. It’s trusting them to make their own choices.

Which means they might eat the apple.

They might eat apples for the rest of time.

Or they might wake up tomorrow and want an orange.

It feels like giving up a lot of control. But the thing is, the orange grove owner in this scenario never really had any control over what the fruit chooser was going to choose. Influence, sure. An opportunity to provide information so that they could make an informed choice, absolutely. But never, ever control.

You can help people make their minds up, but you can’t change their minds completely. Case in point: in early 2012, Budweiser created an amazingly emotive and touching campaign that cuts straight to the heart of beer-drinking hockey-loving Canadians (and Buffalonians). It was incredible. It made me cry. I will remember that commercial for years to come.

But I still won’t switch to Bud, because I don’t like it. I like thick, room-temperature beer that makes a spoon stand to attention: chocolate stouts and crème brûlée porters and Guinness Extra Stout. I am not, and will likely never be, Budweiser’s Right People. No amount of connection, emotion, or hockey will change that…and that’s really okay.

I’m never going to eat their oranges.

How can you give up that illusion of control, and trust your people to make choices that are best suited for them? Is it hard for you to be vulnerable and open when it comes to sales and marketing? Or are you already doing it? Share with us in the comments below – show us your oranges!

Danielle NelsonHi! I’m Dani. I’m a writer, teacher, business coach, and signal-booster, and I’m on a mission to help you make your business more awesome, more successful, and more you. (With tea. Tea is always good.)

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7 thoughts on “Oranges, Trust, and Relinquishing Control

  1. Great Danielle,

    I’ve done just a little thing. On Facebook there are ‘liking ladders’ – pages where you can add your business name in the comments with a tag. Other business owners come along and click on your name, then ‘like’ your page. Everyone reciprocates and everyone has huge numbers of people ‘liking’ their page. But I didn’t want huge numbers of people ‘liking’ my page if they are not reading my blog or interested in what I have to say. So I haven’t joined in. I’m trusting that the people who need or want to read my blog will find me.

    It’s a little thing but it’s important to me to have people who genuinely ‘like’ my page!

    • You’ve hit on a great point, Karen – that the numbers don’t always matter! There’s a huge push not just on FB but all across the board to get more followers, more likes, etc. – but if the users don’t want to be there, aren’t actually interested, then those numbers are useless! Good on you for choosing integrity over trends. 🙂

  2. I really liked the point you made about control, that you never actually have control over the situation. Once you realize that you have influence but not control, it makes things a little easier to handle. That way, you don’t feel like you’re losing anything, you’re only contributing. It’s the feeling of loss that makes people act out of fear instead of as their true selves. True selves always act out of love.

    • “True selves always act out of love.” <– Oh, Leanna, I love this! (Your whole comment, really, but especially this!) And you're absolutely spot on – you are *contributing*, in a very beautiful and real way, when you share things for the sake of sharing and informing rather than for the sake of the bottom line.

  3. Absolutely awesome. Relinquish control. The Bud commercial was great and a spectacular way to make your point. Influence vs. control. Loved every moment of this post Danielle.

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