Salespeople get a bad reputation for being “too aggressive” and “too pushy” when they “follow up.” We’ve all experienced the moment when we told a salesman “no” only to see them look dejected, a bit desperate and even a little angry. We’ve also given in to the incessant calls and bought something against our better judgment – only to distrust salespeople after that. But these things don’t only apply to sales. People don’t really like to be harassed, harangued and pressured. They dislike and distrust the efforts of others to force them into something. But whether we are in sales or not, we’d like it if others cooperated, and in many cases it is in their best interest. Take drug abuse for example:
Life or Death
We are talking to a friend who really needs to check into rehab for a substance abuse problem. If they don’t start dealing with it, it could be too late and they could wind up hospitalized or dead. But when we bring up the subject or attempt to bridge over into it, they get defensive and try to back you off. They recoil at any attempt to “tell them what to do” or “push them in a certain direction.” Is the answer to give up? What do we do?
Whether it is sales, business, or to save a life, here are a few observations based on decades of experience in sales, business, and saving lives:
People want to be “right” and in so doing they often seek to make others “wrong.” It is not necessarily rational or analytical. So trying to look on it as such (rational or analytical) will not bring much joy. The “trick” is to use two-way communication and “make the person right.” It is a subtle art. Observe something you admire or respect about the person and talk to them about it. But be real about it – false flattery or insincerity will get you nowhere. Talk with them about something you both agree upon. If you observe that person is angry most of the time, be “angry” about something right along with them. Keep engaging about things that you can agree on. Continue using two-way communication and be sure to understand and acknowledge what they tell you. Bridge it over onto the subject you wish to discuss and you should see positive results.
2. Power of Choice
You cannot deny free will – the power of choice! The power to decide for ourselves is senior to most anything else. If your “decisions” harm others you subject yourself to justice, the law, etc. But beyond that, people have the right to determine their own destiny. So when you push too hard against the power of choice, you can get recoil. Even if they reluctantly agree, you’re likely to get some backlash. The thing to do is work with the power of choice. Some of the best salesmen and businessmen I have worked with will talk to someone for a while and suddenly that person wants to buy, agrees to the terms, etc. They felt it was solely their decision even though it was someone else who planted the seed. Later on they may realize it was someone else’s idea, but they’re OK with that. That salesman or businessman successfully worked with the power of choice of that individual.
Everyone is different. You must be able to respect people’s individuality. You don’t approach everyone the exact same way. Some people LOVE TO TALK and really just need a good listener. And they’ll talk your ear off. Others really want to HEAR what you have to say and they’ll listen intently. Some, on the other hand, would rather keep it very brief; they prefer the email that is short and to the point; they may only answer in one or two words; they just want the facts. It is essential to make observations about the individual and speak to their individuality.
One thing that can happen is the “personality clash”: They don’t like your accent, the way you look or the way you walk. They don’t trust anyone with green eyes. You remind them of their ex-husband or ex-wife. It could be anything, and it’s not necessarily based on anything reasonable. It’s just something in your personality that is blocking progress and probably no one on either side can even name what it is, but you must be alert for it. In these cases you may not be able to get anywhere and you have to turn it over to an associate. Don’t take it personally.
Instead of approaching people with what YOU need or want from THEM, try finding out what THEY need or want from YOU. It is not that everyone is self-centered; it’s just that most people are pretty immersed in their own problems. If you have something to offer that will HELP them, they are more likely to get interested. Can you make their lives easier? Can you help them cope better with their problems? Some people get suspicious when you say you can help them, so be specific about it. If you are applying for a job, let them know how you can help them. If you are selling something, whether it is a car, insurance, an investment package or anything else, let the person know how it relates to them personally – and be specific. If you are trying to convince someone to enter rehab, you may have to first enlighten them on the fact that help is even possible.
Having a grasp of the above four points – rightness, power of choice, individuality, help – will assist you in your overall efforts. The next thing to know is when to withdraw after you have reached. When you reach for something, you must also know when to withdraw. If you do nothing but reach, you can create an effect wherein the other individual recoils back. It is almost like something out of physics.
The best example of this is when a person is trying to get a date with someone: The young man approaches the young woman and strikes up a conversation. He’s rather nervous and stuck in one direction. He basically has a one-track mind. The girl is mildly interested, but soon feels her space being encroached upon and rejects the boy’s advances. The boy sulks away in defeat. He didn’t know when to back off, when to withdraw. If he was totally OK with not talking with her and “had to go all of a sudden,” the girl (if she was interested at all) would feel herself pulled in his direction as he walked away.
It is not unlike magnets that either attract or reject. It’s a science you can learn, a skill you can develop, a subtle art you can hone. You can apply the principle to anything. Just reach and then withdraw and see what happens.