Understanding sales; start with your children.
Why would I say that? First, I'm in sales and I have 2 young children, my boy is 5 and my girl is 2.5 years old. I have to admit that I'm not a very patient person. I'm also not a perfectionist, far from that actually, but I definitely want to be efficient and straight to the point in everything I do. This could sometimes translate into 'rushing things' or 'hurry hurry'.
We know that we are being sold to all the time, but sometimes when we're too absorbed in a situation, or too excited, we don't realize that we were until the experience was over. Sometimes I had to laugh at myself, thinking 'Wow, they're good sales people or was I just desperate'. Have you ever experienced that?
I'm not an expert in bringing up children but I have observed some similarities between this and the work that I do, which is Sales.
Food for thought; how do you treat your customers and how do you treat your children? Are you paying more attention on your customers than on your children because you want something from them? I bet most of us do because our customers are the ones who pay our bills. But what we're forgetting here is that we also do want something from our children. Not the same thing as what we want from our customers, but equally important because our quality of life as a family, down the road definitely depends on it. We want our children to be good kids with good behaviour, have good social skills, good common sense, and etc.
These are the 3 similar behaviours of a skilled sales professional and our role as parents.
1) Ask (the right) questions
This happened a year ago. After picking up my 4-year old son from Kindergarden, I used to ask him 'How was your day?' or 'What did you do today?'. The answers were always 'Good' and 'Nothing'. That was all I could get out of him. I realised that if I were to get any useful information about what he had done in school, I was going to have to change my line of questioning and make the questioning more interesting to answer. This is a skill that every sales professional has to learn as well because questions have such an influence on the decision making process and contemplate behaviour. There are scientific studies about asking powerful questions and how they can direct the mind. A summary of studies has been done by Daniel Hoffeld in his book, 'The Science of Selling'. As long a sales professionals acquire the skills to ask the right questions, they will be more successful in getting the real motive behind every intention to purchase. Once this is known, every meeting or phone call can be prepared in advance to focus in the right direction.
2) Positive emotion
My son likes to provoke, tease and hit his little sister and he knows that he'll be punished when he does that. But he continues to do it. I have been reading up on this topic because I need to know how to deal with this situation in the house or when we go out. Very often when the situation happens, my husband and I would think that we have not been consistent enough in imposing consequences in his bad behaviour. But the real reason in my son's bad behaviour, despite knowing the consequences, is because he was caught up in the emotion of the moment as we all are, at times. We as parents have the responsibility to help and teach our kids to regulate their emotions. The book that I can recommend parents to read is by the author Kenneth Barish, Ph. D., 'Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems'. It's also highly important to teach our kids the ability to read social situations and to read the looks on people's faces. It will help our kids to avoid trouble and teaches them how to get along with others. In addition, they will be able to identify how people might be feeling and learn that they should try to identify other people's emotions.
What about our customer's emotions? Do we need to know about their emotions before we make our sales pitch either on the phone or in a meeting? This is where patience play an important role here because as a sales professional, often enough an unskilled sales professional is usually very eager to jump to the closing before the buyer is ready, almost skipping the entire sales process. As a sales professional, we have to train our minds to be attuned to the emotions that our customer is presenting; identify them and shift them. There is no point in having a sales talk with the customer when he's experiencing negative emotions that is probably not related to us, however, very important that both we and the customer are aware of this negative emotion and refocus the mind on positive emotion. When this is achieved, I can guarantee that the customer will be more receptive to new ideas and will progress easily to perceive value.
3) Overcoming objections
Our kid's objection is usually the word "no", as we parents as well. Most of the time, we are unaware the number of times we tell our kids "no". Before I get to the story about kids objecting, I need to tell this story that I've just experienced this week. While I was sweeping the floor, my son wanted to help me but instead of asking me if I needed help, he just came and snatched the broom away and said he wants to help me. I got annoyed because I found that rude and he knows very well that he's not supposed to snatch things away from people and should always ask permission first. So I asked him why he did that. He replied 'Because you always say no'. Then I started to realize that I was the culprit behind this behaviour. He could not differentiate the "no"'s that I used in different scenarios when I was teaching him right from wrong. At the same time, by saying "no" a lot to our children, we indirectly teach them to say "no" to us parents. So what we parents should do is to put a positve spin on our requests and instead of saying "no", clearly state what your child can do. Rather than barking, "No! Don't throw the ball in the living room," for instance, try "Let's go outside to play ball."
Now what happens when your kid is saying "no" to you all the time. It can get very frustating in everything you do with your child and the stress level can affect your marriage. Most of the time, your child is saying "no" to you because they get the feeling that they are not in control and I am talking about a child as young as 1.5 years old. My daughter has a very strong-will and I relate this personality to her because she is more resistant than my son. Studies have also shown that children say "no" to people or things that they're not attached to. So if my daugther is very attached in the moment to her toys, she is less likely to listen to something I ask her to do. It doesn't mean that she doesn't love me or she's not attached to me but it just mean that she is not right now. Another example is if my son is not attached to his teacher, he will not listen in class. So first thing to do is to provide some sense of connection and closeness first before asking your child to do something. Secondly, giving children a feeling that they can choose and decide is important, and make sure that you can live with the potential decision.
Customer objections can be difficult to handle, and many sales professionals fear this situation. However, to overcome customer's objections, which could be price, quality or trust related or plainly to stall their decision because of the pressure that they're feeling getting closer to the closing, we have to dive into the emotional side. As soon as customers have any doubt, we should identify the objections quickly and neutralize them. At the same time, if you sense that your customer is feeling a little stressed out or experiencing negative emotions, you have to shift this to a positive emotion by asking questions that will help customers reevaluate and refocus on the benefits. It's also important that customers feel like they have a choice but it's the job of sales professionals to guide the customers to making the right and satisfactory decision. Just like the "no" example with children, the way to respond to an objection from customers should be non confrontational. When there is an objection, the customer is ready for confrontation and this commands the brain to go into defensive direction and it will automatically lead to an emotional conversation. Therefore always use softening statements. Lastly, always anticipate any objections by preparing in advance.