What size bit would you like?

what size bit

“What Size Bit Would You Like?” originally appeared on the Paying Hobby blog on 6 Oct, 2009. During the final editing stages of The Closers – Part 3, Paul Democritou and I had a conversation about the quote mentioned. I thought it might be time to resurface this post, lightly edited.


Browsing the internet the other day, I came across a quote that brought me up sharp and made me think. It was a simple, statement of truth we all “know” but often forget. It related to sales. But it made me think about work, and about buying into methodologies and belief systems that are not our own.

The quote was this:

Nobody who ever bought a drill actually wanted a drill.
They wanted a hole.
Therefore, if you want to sell drills, you should advertise information about making holes, not information about drills.
-Perry Marshall

What this guy was saying was that we all have reasons and motives for everything we do. In any encounter there are two sets of reasons and two motives. In this example, one guy who wants a hole and another who wants to sell a drill (for the money.)

But there may be others who want to sell drills also. The poor guy who wants a hole ends up surrounded by people pitching all these different drills. Each of these people is focused on their own motivation: Sell the drill; make some money.

The one who stands out from this crowd and ultimately “sells his drill” will be the one who gets past his own goal. The one who gets out of his own head, and into the other guy’s. It will be the one who can see past the guy’s need for a drill to his desire to create a hole. Then communicate his understanding of that desire for a hole. Offer a way for the guy to make his “hole” dreams a reality: with this drill he happens to have for sale, right here.

With an upsell of, “What size bit would you like to go with that?”

We’ve all been sold a drill

See, why do we all go to work? Mostly, we do it for the money. We’ve been sold a “drill” that says we have to work for the money to pay our bills. That enjoying ourselves is something we should do outside of work hours.

But buying that drill, being able to pay the bills and earn money, wasn’t what we wanted out of life. We wanted a “hole,” or in this case, we wanted to be whole.

We wanted to spend our adult lives doing something practical or creative. That added value to society, and that we would enjoy. Since the only “drill” available to most people came in the form of a job, we bought it.

We bought it only to realize, often years later, that this particular drill didn’t make the hole we wanted it to, no matter what size bit we used. Instead it made a hole to someone else’s specifications, whether we liked it or not. Worse still, we couldn’t return it or get a refund. We had become so dependent on the drill, we didn’t know how to cope without it any more.

We even found ourselves organizing our lives around this tool. Allowing it to make demands on us we wouldn’t accept from our family. We began to hide behind the drill, using it as an excuse not to make a better hole. Because even if the hole the drill made wasn’t the one we wanted, at least it was a hole, right? And any hole is better than none.

You want a hole, you gotta drill

Eventually though, the drill wore out, and we needed to get a new one. Rather than go out and shop around for a new make or model, we went along to the shop and bought a new one exactly the same. Sure, it might have had a few new features. But it did the same thing. Making the same ill-fitting hole as its predecessor, whining and grinding all the time. By now, we were so accustomed to this, we didn’t notice.  If anyone were to point it out we’d say, “That’s how drills are, you know. You want a hole, you gotta drill.”

And so we go on, replacing one shoddy drill after another. Drilling hole after hole we don’t want. Until one day something brings us up sharp. We can’t find a replacement drill when one packs in for the last time. Or we get so plain fed up with all these unsightly holes we decide it’s time to make the damn things how we want them. We do a bit of research. Get clear in our own minds exactly how we want the end result to look. Start thinking for ourselves how we can make this come good.

So, what size bit do you need?

This time, when we go shopping for a tool to make a hole, we don’t listen to any drill salesmen.

Maybe we find the tool we wanted all along was in fact a needle, or a digger, who knows? Maybe we didn’t really want a hole in the first place. We actually wanted a smooth surface, or even a giant hill.

Until we think about what we want, we can’t get it. If we don’t decide, someone else will dictate… Click To Tweet
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