Why Lance Armstrong Isn't Selling Me a Treadmill This Week

Jan 21, 2013

Did anyone else notice that Canadian Tire has a big sale on Livestrong equipment this week?

I’m no marketing strategist, but I can’t imagine that’s a coincidence, what with Livestrong’s founding figure, cyclist Lance Armstrong, officially confessing to the world this week that he doped and lied about it.

I’m trying to figure out the psychology behind this move. Are they trying to sell me a Livestrong treadmill because:

A) they are cleaning out their warehouse and once they’ve done that, they will no longer sell Livestrong products ever, ever again?

B) they are assuming that people will never pay full price for a Livestrong treadmill because if they’re going to pay full price for a treadmill, they’ll probably pick one not stained with decades of lies and deception?

C) they think that people will somehow react with sympathy to Lance Armstrong’s confession, and buy the treadmill in order to support him because he’s on the proverbial road to redemption and Redeemed Sinners are just below Oppressed Underdogs and just above your Run-of-the-Mill Underdog on everyone’s list of favourites to root for, OR

D) they think that people will want to support Livestrong as a brand because they figure the related charitable Livestrong Foundation is going to have a hell of a time fundraising this spring?

Maybe all of the above. Maybe something more straightforward (probably).

Either way, I’m not buying a treadmill this week.

Why? Because I don’t trust Armstrong. And maybe one thing has nothing to do with the other, but that’s not how it looks this week.

People, generally, will not buy what you’re selling for one of several reasons:

  • They don’t need what you’re selling.
  • They don’t want what you’re selling (or, they don’t know why they should want it).
  • You aren’t selling it to them.
  • They don’t trust you.

Today we are talking about trust.

If your clients don’t trust you, they will second-guess everything you say. They will look for the double meaning. They will get protective because they assume you are smirking behind your hand about what an idiot they are for buying your scam. Or alternately, your clients will be afraid that you are as delusional as Armstrong: vehemently ‘selling’ a winning strategy all the while knowing deep down that it is not all it is cracked up to be.

Similarly, if your employees don’t trust you, they will do the same thing. They will be defensive and protective about their work. They will assume that you are trying to “win” some invisible war (usually played out in paycheques). They will not do their best work because they will not feel comfortable taking risks.

In order for your employees to take risks, they have to feel like you’re going to go to bat for their right to take risks, fail, and try again.

The same is true for your clients. They have to feel like you’re going to go to bat for them and they have to feel safe taking a risk with you.

Training Wheels

As trainers, we see this kind of fear play out in all sorts of ways in organizations, especially when we work with a new group who don’t know what to expect from us.

So often, participants fear that we as trainers are there to make them do uncomfortable “teambuilding” activities that will make them look and feel stupid. In order for us to be effective as trainers, facilitators and consultants, it’s important that our clients know we are going to bat for them. We know there’s a difference between fun and humiliation.

Our clients have to trust us just as your clients have to trust you to tell the truth, deliver good quality products, and be pleasant to deal with and your employees have to trust you to manage them fairly, proactively, and transparently.

And what if your company already has deep-rooted trust issues with either clients or employees?

Luckily, we can help.

And we can provide references, studies that back up why we do what we do, and proven examples of how we’ve helped organizations time and again to improve their relationships internally, and with their stakeholders.

We don’t dope, and we definitely don’t lie about what makes us awesome.