It seems that everybody at one time or another has met someone who might be described as a “natural born” salesperson. As human beings, we tend to stereotype people in our minds and label them as having an ability which is unique to that individual. But the reality about sales and working with customers is that it’s a learned skill. Most salespeople have crafted their art over time by repeated practice and customer interaction, exactly like any other profession. Unfortunately, many others still struggle to close the sale because nobody has taught them what to really do. So how exactly does one master the art of human interaction for financial gain? Here are some quick lessons that will help you make sense of it all.
Unfortunately, working with customers can sometimes be a negative experience. Let’s face it, human beings can be grumpy. It’s very easy for your attitude to be affected by other people. It’s even easier to get frustrated and lose your “positive power” over others. This is the top complaint of professional salespeople. So how exactly can you prevent the positive energy from being sucked from your body? It’s so simple. Take control. And right from the start. Approach the customer and look them right in the eye. Then immediately greet them. When you engage a person through their eyes, you will instantly sense that person’s mood. Your greeting will assure you’re in control. Remember to smile or at least be sincerely excited about what you’re doing. Once you have made initial contact, the most important step comes next. Wait. Wait for them to respond. Listen, listen, listen to how the customer responds to you. In other words, keep quiet and let them respond to your greeting. This is where a good percentage of salespeople miss opportunities, they think they need to immediately start pitching people. Don’t. The relationship with your customer is the key, NOT the pitch. By carefully listening and absorbing into your brain how the person responds will instantly tell you what kind of a mood and personality you are dealing with. This is your upper hand in taking control. Then comes the most important skill you can develop.
Mirror the Customer
One of the most amusing observations I have made over years is just how much people are in love with themselves. Very few people practice the art of humility on a regular basis. Think about the people you know who regularly spit out critical comments about others. They probably think they are perfect. In their minds, they are. Unfortunately, they also don’t own a mirror. People’s attitudes about themselves is human reality, use this trait to your benefit. Mirror them.
Once you realize how important this step is, everything should click in for you. But mirroring the customer does not entail imitating their voice or walking like them. It means using your voice tones to communicate on the same level and speed. In the course of an average day, you will meet all different kinds of personalities; loud people, shy types, some who won’t stop talking and others who have personal hygiene issues (Don’t mirror that). What mirroring means is to immediately imitate their attitude and voice level. In their mind they think they are talking to someone who is exactly like themselves. And after all, who wouldn’t want to do business with someone who is as perfect as they are. People like people who seem like them.
You mirror people right after they respond to your greeting. If they respond in a higher voice tone than yours, bring your tone up a little. If they seem very serious, pitch them the same way. Immediately go up or down to their level. This makes your work more fun because you are not monotone the entire day. But you will be amazed at how people’s faces light up immediately. You are in essence taking away a lot of the anxiety customer’s have when they are approached by sales people. Where I live in New England, most of the general public is suspicious of sales people. I actually find that 99% of people are reasonable and actually welcome friendly business interactions. You just have to adjust to them, not the other way around.
Successfully mirroring customers takes practice. It also requires a lot of observation on your part. Whether you work in retail or cold call prospective clients, take the time to watch your colleagues in action. Each sales pitch is essentially the same even though different cultures and personalities respond differently. Selling is about connecting with other humans. A very successful national furniture representative once told me that people buy from you because they like you. Period.
When I started in sales, my mentors told me to practice my sales voice tones and sincerity in the mirror everyday. I ignored this advice believing it was psychotic behavior. But after many weeks of frustration and low sales, I decided to try listening to myself, by myself. I can’t even tell you how successful I became. I believe that this one exercise led to me quickly moving on to the next level in the organization. Years later I also realized another important human trait. Most of us talk to ourselves anyway. If you feel more comfortable videotaping yourself or recording your voice, then do it. But you must be serious about advancing in your career or task in order to make this work. I know it did for me.
One important tip that can make a big difference in your success is to lose the memorized sales pitch that so many salespeople use. As a consumer, whenever someone approaches me with “How are you, TODAY?, I immediately know that they were trained to emulate a boxed pitch. In the course of a normal conversation, would you ask your spouse about how their day was, today? It makes no sense to include “today”. Personally it makes me cringe, it’s phony. You probably don’t use that word when addressing your friends, don’t do it to a customer. This is just one example of repetition gone bad. The bottom line again is that people will buy from you because they like you and the mini relationship you develop.