Children. Some of The Greatest Sales Artists I Have Come Across
Have you read what I wrote about my two children at the start of Relationship Selling?
It’s cool; if you have yet to pick up a copy of Relationship Selling I will let you in on a little secret. The book is dedicated to my two children, Jacob and Alice. You will see a nice little paragraph about them at the start of the book, and there is also a sweet sentence in the acknowledgment section of the book dedicated just to them. They were one of my pure inspirations for the writing of the book and truly helped me push through the hours or procrastination and the self doubt that flowed through me at times. If you haven’t met them, I can guarantee they are two pretty cute kids.
They also taught me a lot about selling.
That’s right. A five year old and a three year old helped to teach ME to sell.
Let me explain;
If you have ever been around kids you will know; they tend to get what they want. Perhaps you have children of your own, or maybe you spend time with younger siblings, nieces or nephews. If you spend any time with young people you will soon discover that the majority of the time they get what they want and will work relentlessly until they receive whatever they desire. I have seen it first hand. In fact, I bet if you really tried you will be able to go back to some deep childhood memories and think back to a time when you were very small and in search of the latest of toy or perhaps a bag of sweets you have tried everything you can to get what you want. Just admit it – you were relentless as a child!
What can we learn from children? What can we take from these little rascals, and what can we put in to our own sales pitch?
A ‘No’ Rarely Means ‘No’
Some of the greatest sales professionals I have worked with have one unique ability; the ability to take rejection after rejection on a daily basis and yet through all this, still have the ability to stand up, dust themselves off and to keep going on to the next pitch. You see, what these professionals know is that a ‘no’ is never a personal rejection, and that ‘no’ can eventually turn to a ‘yes’ if the right probing and questioning is conducted – or even if the sales professional tries again in the future, perhaps on a different day. A ‘no’ nearly always means; ‘not just yet’.
This is something children know and understand. Have you ever had a child ask you for a treat or maybe the chance to watch an extra episode of their favourite TV show before bed? You will be approached, and the question will be presented to you. If you are boring (or perhaps sensible) and say ‘No’, how many times has your child gone on to say;
“Ok Daddy, you’re right. I won’t eat any more sweets” or “Ok mummy, I will go straight to bed”.
Seriously; if that happens then fair play to you – parenting award of the year goes to you!! That never happens does it? I can guarantee that in saying ‘No’, further questioning follows;
“But why?” or “Please Daddy, just ONE more episode”.
Even after this second round of questioning, I bet 75% of children go on to try their luck one more time. This line of questioning can go on and on until either the parent puts their foot down and threatens some sort of punishment if another question is asked, or the parent gives in;
“OK! Just one more episode. But then it is bedtime!” or “Fine. One more sweet. And that is it!”
That sounds familiar right? I know it does! Because my children do it on a near daily basis to me and you know what, it has got to the point where I sometimes question why I even say no in the first place! I know my children are going to keep asking until I give them what they want and they know it.
And deep down you know it!
The next time you hear a ‘no’ from a prospect; just think back to this. Does the ‘no’ mean ‘no’ for good? Is that a line in the sand? Hell no! It’s just a jab back at you, and you need to dig deep, pick yourself up and either question your prospect again, or be ready to come back to the negotiation another day. Don’t just hear ‘no’ and go away and cry about it. You won’t get anywhere. Find inspiration in children; ask. Ask. Ask again. Be persistent, ask for the sale and you will get it eventually.
Change Your Script
I always speak to others within our industry about how I disagree with written sales scripts and pitches. Of course, you need to know roughly what you are going to say nut you need to be willing to work without a script; after all, your customer can take a conversation in any way possible and if you are unwilling to react to this the script becomes null and void. You might aswell just throw the script away and hang up the phone – the inability to hold a conversation with a prospect or client will destroy you. A script will destroy creativity and if in the hands of an untrained team member you are going to just cause more harm than good. Please do not get me wrong – a rough script, or an idea as to where you are going to take the conversation is useful and I will never discourage a member of staff from writing down some key sentences down if this helps them. But I always remind them; be willing to change the script at any point during the pitch.
This is what children understand.
They will never just come at you with a one sided ‘sales pitch’ and fight to the death with it. They will change and adapt not only what they say but also in the way they say it. We all know that pitch, tonality and emotion play an incredible role during any conversation; especially during a sales negotiation. We have all heard; “It’s not what you said, it’s the way you said it”, haven’t we? Words are words. Questions are questions. However the way emotion is portrayed in the tonality of our voice can make the entire difference. Children are relentless and not only will not take ‘no’ for an answer, they will also change the way in which they ask the questions. Tears will appear in their eyes, their bottom lip will wobble, and they will throw an overall tantrum in a way to influence your decision making. Now, please don’t read this and think you have to throw a tantrum to get a sale; you are far too intelligent for that! But the point I need to get across to you is that you must be willing to change your sales pitch at any moment. Listen to what the customer is telling you. Watch their body language. Look for clues in which to suggest you need to change your pitch. Are they bored? Do they look fed up? Even on the flip side of this; does the customer look ready to buy? So many sales are lost because a buyer is giving off signals suggesting they want to buy and the salesperson carries on with their pitch to only bore or put the customer off, and low and behold the sale is lost. If your buyer is ready to buy; STOP! Close that damn sale!
Sell The Benefit
This is one thing that one of my very early sales managers once told me. She was running through my induction with me and told me; “Rob, never sell the product. Sell the benefit”. A good sales person will be constantly problem solving, listening to to their client and finding ways in which to help them. There are so many people who fail within the sales world and even fail their own businesses because they put their own needs first. They get greedy. They care less about what the client wants and will push upon them a product or service that they might not even need, let alone want. Do you think this poor customer will ever do business with this person again? Hell no! Show me a quicker way to close a relationship! The best professionals within our industry will listen to their customer, use probing questions to discover their true needs and find a solution to their problem.
This is something my children have started to do!
As a way to persuade for them to get what they want, they have learned that in giving me a benefit to the outcome, I will more than likely say ‘yes’ to the proposal. Just the other day, Jacob in an attempt to play on his iPad, told me;
“Daddy, if you let me play on my games, you will be able to read your book for a bit – you can have some peace and quiet.” He knew what I wanted! SOLD!! I am sure you can think of examples in which your children have found simple little things that will benefit you in an attempt to get what THEY. It’s not just my children – surely?!
Next time you are heading to a sales pitch, or perhaps even during a pitch and you keep facing rejection think back to this article; Do your children take ‘No’ as the only answer? Do they just approach you with just one form of asking? Do your children find ways to create a benefit for the transaction? Damn right they do! And if they can, then you can too!
Robert Spence is a sales manager, sales coach, author, and self confessed nice guy. His first book ‘Relationship Selling; Achieve Everything You Deserve’ is currently available to buy from amazon.co.uk
If you want to read more of his ramblings, please head over to robertspence.co.uk