It always amazes me that sales consultants make selling harder than it should be. Before everyone gathers the lynch mob, I do realize it takes a certain amount of finesse and skills to persuade someone to do something they otherwise would not do. We all are born with the ability to sell; some of us are better at it than others. As we train and mentor our companies’ future sales professional, I emphasize that, from the time we are born and until the time we leave this green earth we are selling. What they don’t realize is that for the most part, we are doing it subconsciously. We are involved in one selling process or another on a daily basis whether in our work or family environment. Truly; if you really examine your life, you’ll realize that you spend more time in a selling environment in your own home than at work.
From the time we are an infant, we’ve been selling in some facet or another. When we wanted either our diaper changed or something to eat, we used the art of negotiation by crying until we got what we wanted. Unfortunately, some people still use this technique today as adults. Over time I’ve come to realize that our children are the best closers in life; due to the fact that they have not been conditioned with the fear of rejection. Those of you that either have or have had small children, think back on how many times your children utter these famous words: “Can I? Can I? Can I?”. Wanting to eliminate the annoyance of hearing those words over and over, you relent to their request.
When my daughter wanted something from either her mother or I, she always seemed to be able to bypass our objections with the same sort of grace and ease a masterful negotiator would possess to accomplish their goals. I remember on countless occasions as my daughter grew up, we always seemed to butt heads when it came to the cleanliness of her room, on several occasions we considered calling in the Hazmat team to clean it up for her. It never failed when she wanted something and we’d say no to her, she automatically would repeat our answer as if playing a recording back of the conversation we just had. Like clockwork as most parents, we always heard the infamous question of “why not?”. I cannot remember how many times I’ve repeatedly heard those words as my children grew up, especially from my daughter whose middle name should have been “why not”. If we conceded in letting her do what she had wanted, we always seemed to place the stipulation of cleaning her room up first. To ensure there was no miss communication in our statement, she would always clarify with us by stating “so if I cleanup my room I can do xyz?”. Looking back on this common family ritual event of cleaning up her room up; which seemed such a daunting task to her, my daughter would always ask this question like a well oiled precision machine; “other than cleaning up my room is there any other reason I can’t do xyz?”.
Unknowingly my daughter was using a simple closing method called the “Break method”. With no formal training and using a selling technique which seemed to be second nature to her; she’d accomplish her goal.
One skill which tends to be an Achilles heel in people’s relationships and professional lives is their inability to listen effectively. This skill eludes some individuals for their entire lives and while others have perfected this skill to the level of a shaolin master. The average person only listens to approximately 70 percent of what is spoken to us. At a certain point, due to either informational overload or lack of interest the person speaking to you sounds like the teacher in a Charlie Brown special. As children, our parents constantly disciplined us for not listening to what they said to us. How many of us can relate to when a wife, husband, girlfriend or child was talking to us and being so fully engrossed in whatever were doing at the time, acknowledged the conversation without fully understanding what is being said to you. I can fully assure you I’ve agreed to a few things I shouldn’t have; manifesting into many heated debates in my household due to ineffectively listening skills. Customers continually express the same level of frustrations with their salesperson being so fixated on the sale that they fail to effectively listen to what they are saying. Most sales people are intimidated or don’t put enough effort towards mastering the skills of effective listening. We tend to either anticipate or finish a customer’s statement, causing objections which might not have surfaced if we’d only listened. We need to remember either personally or professionally, to slow down and listen to what is being said.
When examining the process of following up, I’ve realized our children are amazingly relentless in this arena. When our children ask us either for or to do something; as parents not wanting to address the question of the moment for one reason or another, we normally tell our children “not now ask me later”. When later comes around, low and behold; guess who is standing in front of you wanting the answer to the question you postponed from earlier in the day. At this point you either relent or deny their request. If the later occurs “Oh let the Games begin” - this is when your child becomes the master negotiator and provides you with all the reasons why, they should be allowed to do what they’ve requested. Normally at this point you’re wondering who replaced your sweet and innocent child’s personality with a seasoned negotiator who has solved some of the most difficult galactic disputes.
As young adults we begin to neglect the follow-up skills we so elegantly mastered as children. Instead of building a long term relationship with their customers, most sales people neglect the follow-up skills and are only interested in instant gratification. Feedback we’ve received from our customer’s expressing their concerns that their sales person did not or has not followed up with them as promised. As we begin to settle down in life, we become a true professional sales consultant interested in long-term relationships. Professional sales consultants realize that when they genuinely care for their customer’s needs, a relationship will develop that transcends into a customer’s extended family and friends. As a human being and sales professionals we need to remember that this aspect is the bread and butter of our life.
Life tends to knock us down occasionally, however; we can choose to get up with the same tenacity you possessed in your childhood when facing adversity. We tend to be self absorbed, distracted and in a hurry with our own little world that we forget to slow down and smell the proverbial roses. Forgetting life is like a novel and to fully enjoy the story we need to remember to slow down and enjoy each page of it. As I sit here writing this message my wife reminds me to heed my own advice, however; that’s another article and negotiation technique I have yet to learn and master myself.
Where do you see sales in your everyday life? What have you learned from it and what can you share with us so that we, too, can become better salespeople?