Sometimes You Have to Tug

Gunner on a trampoline

The other day I was sitting on the couch, tired after a long day of work.  My two year old, Gunner, came up to me and asked if I wanted to jump on the trampoline with him.  I told him in just a few minutes I would be ready to play.  He stared at me for a long moment not really understanding what I just said--or more likely understanding what I said and not agreeing with it.  Then without warning he stepped forward and grabbed onto my shirt and tugged.  When I didn’t move he put his full weight into his pulling.  He audibly grunted from the hard work of pulling me off the couch.  Seeing I didn’t really have a choice at that point I got off the couch.  He didn’t let go of the shirt.  But rather kept pulling me out the back door and right next to the trampoline.

Gunner's Secret Formula

  1. Ask
  2. Stare
  3. Tug
  4. Tug harder
  5. Repeat (when he really wants something Gunner will repeat the process as many times as it takes to get the desired result)

We can learn an important lesson from Gunner.  In business, sales, and family life sometimes just asking is not enough.  Oftentimes you have just grab on to whatever you can reach and pull or guide others in the right direction.

It Works in Business

In my professional life I own an adult vocational school.  We offer a variety of technical and leadership courses designed to make employees more effective, productive, and more valuable to their employer.  Virtually nobody regrets ever coming to a training class—they say as much on their class evals.  But guess how many people come to a class after we ask one time?  Pretty much none.  Most people enjoy sitting on the couch—it’s comfortable there.  It typically takes much more than a simple ask to get students into our classrooms.

Eight Times, Don't Give Up

My sales coach and mentor, Dave Tester, has taught my sales team that a prospect typically needs to be contacted at least eight times before they will say yes.  You can’t ask and then give up—although that’s what most people do.  Statistically 20% of sales people give up after the first ask, 40% give up after the second ask.  And so on until about 95% of sales people give up after the fifth ask.  If Gunner were to act like most sales people, he would rarely get dad off of the couch.

Sometimes You Have to Tug

So the next time you really want something keep in mind one ask is probably not going to get the job done. Sometimes you have to tug too.