There are chefs out there that will not eat their own cooking. This ought to disturb you in the same way that the drug dealer knows enough to stay away from his own product. If you’re taking the time to dedicate your life to cooking and food prep and you won’t eat your own creations, there’s something wrong. That is incongruent. Why wouldn’t you eat your own cooking? You only wouldn’t if you knew beforehand that what you’re prepping isn’t very good or isn’t good for you or for others. Or, you don’t believe in your own cooking. Whatever the case, this is a problem.
Warren Buffett talks quite a bit about he and Charlie eating their own cooking. Within the finance parlance, this means that they act on their own financial advice they dish out to all Berkshire shareholders each May at the annual meeting. In money matters, they actually do what they advise others to do. They are congruent with what they say and what they do. Thus, they eat their own cooking.
Warren discusses this because there are plenty of professionals in financial services that do not do as they advise others to do. They are incongruent in what they say and what they do. They are sneaky. They are hypocritical. And they give the financial services industry a bad name. They do not eat their own cooking because they’re afraid of what they’ve created and prepped financially. Not so good, Al.
The corollary to sales is to actually use / be / know / do what it is you sell. If you sell Macs, you use a Mac. If you sell high end denim, you wear high end denim. If you sell Audis, you drive an Audi. If you sell real estate, you actually own a home in a nice neighborhood. If you’re a personal trainer, you work-out regularly and are in great physical and mental shape. This is eating your own cooking in sales. This is being congruent between your words and your actions.
There’s nothing worse to the prospect or customer than the salesperson who is incongruent with their message. They sell Windows, but use a Mac. They sell Mercedes, but drive a BMW. They offer you alcohol, but don’t drink themselves. We all know we have our own incongruences in our lives, but we have a hard time seeing it in the salesperson because we’re looking for chinks. People look for the Gotcha! in their salesperson because they’re tired of getting sold a bill of goods. So, it is always best if the salesperson eats their own cooking and takes or lives their own advice. Why wouldn’t you? Especially if you’re in the advice-giving business like financial services.
In the advice-giving business, what are people really buying from you?
Speaking of getting paid to give advice, what is it that prospects are really buying when they buy from you? Is it your personality? Is it your features? Is it what you offer that’s in it for them? Prospects aren’t buying your features. They aren’t even really buying your benefits. They aren’t buying your personality, but that certainly helps.
They’re buying your perspective.
They want an alternative perspective and that is why they pay you. This is why people hire coaches and physical trainers and other advice-givers. They want a new perspective on a problem of theirs. And all of us far prefer these advice-givers, these coaches and trainers to actually do what they advise others to do. We prefer this congruence because it aligns with what they’re dishing out. It simply makes us feel better to see that the expert is following his own advice.
Eating your own cooking = Social Proof
Eating your own cooking is an extension of the power of Social Proof. We do as we see others do. If something is popular, it must be good enough for us. If customers bought this item, they also typically buy that item. Think of Social Proof as the ultimate recommendation engine for goods and services. It’s a time-saver for buyers. These people are eating these foods at this restaurant. Therefore, it must be good. They’ve vetted it for you. This saves you time, effort, energy and it gets you off the hook if it doesn’t work out.
Do not underestimate this power. Social Proof is far more unconscious than conscious — almost no one admits to buying something because someone else bought it. We’re too proud for that. But it is one of the key points of influencing others.
We buy because others bought.