The 7 Hour Rule
Big decisions take 7 hours.
Whether you are buying a new car, making a new career move, engaging a consultant or choosing an annual holiday destination, if you add up all the time you spend thinking about it, you can be fairly sure it totals more than seven hours.
Something magical happens after seven hours. If you have invested seven hours in getting to know a person or a topic its only because you have established a high degree of relevance, emotional connection, trust, rapport, understanding and even bonding to the person or idea.
If you hadn’t you wouldn’t have come close to hitting the seven hour mark.
So why is this important?
If your business sells something that requires a purchaser to adopt a new idea or deal with a new person and if the decision is significant you would be silly to try and get the deal done sooner than seven hours.
Japanese businessmen know this. They will rarely talk business until after a round of golf or two. It can actually blow the deal to bring up the topic of business too soon.
None of this matters if you are selling something trivial like coffee or chewing gum. It also doesn’t matter if your happy to compete purely on price with tiny margins, but when you want to offer something new or important and you want to be fairly rewarded the seven hour rule is vital.
So how does it work?
Simple. Your goal is to clock up seven hours with as many people as possible. You don’t want to do this in a creepy, annoying or pestering way. You want people to want to spend seven hours with you. Maybe you host great parties, maybe you chair industry meetings, maybe you take people out for coffee once a month, as long as people like spending time with you it wont be time wasted.
After you have a 7hr+ relationship two great things happen. Firstly, you don’t feel uneasy offering something of value and secondly, you are less likely to blow the relationship by offering something you don’t fully believe in.
The beauty of social media is that you can leverage this process. If people read your blogs, follow your tweets, watch your YouTube channel, listen to your podcast, click through your slides or flick through your photos, it’s as good as sitting face to face. Strangely, the human brain can’t distinguish between digital media and real life (which is why we still feel sad when a celebrity dies even though we didn’t ever really meet them).
My belief is that celebrity endorsements work for companies because you are seeing someone familiar (who you have most likely spent seven hours watching) recommending a product. Companies are effectively buying lots of 7hr+ relationships when they hire the celebrity.
Try out the seven hour rule in your own business and see if life gets easier. If you experience what I have seen, you will find that you don’t need to push for a sales, you get better JV’s and partnerships and you have more fun in business too. All by spending quality time with people.