I was joining Jenny on an introductory sales call and we were having an engaging conversation with our future client. For the purpose of this story we’ll call him Joe. Through getting to know each other, Jenny uncovered that Joe served in the ARMY Airborne Unit. Me being a prior service Marine, I immediately started to ask questions about where he was stationed, what his MOS (military occupational specialty) was, what he loved, where he’s been, why he got out, and a few more questions to really learn more about Joe’s interesting story. The meeting was perfect and Jenny was able to schedule the next steps to move her sales cycle forward.
After the meeting we were having our recap to see what went well and if we accomplished our goals when Jenny asked “how come you didn’t tell him that you were in the Marines?” I responded “because he didn’t care.” When he was speaking about being a soldier and his journey to his current position he was glowing. When I asked him questions about being Airborne and how awesome I thought that was and how hard it must have been, his responses were full of pride. He was interested in him and I wanted to make sure that Jenny and I were as well.
I spoke about this when I wrote “Are you being interesting or interested?” When we’re building rapport, whether it’s with a potential client, subordinate, manager, or friend, our goal is to get the other person to like us. The mistake we make is that we try to tell them all the interesting things about us, our past experiences, our company… when all we really need to do is have them speak about them and everything they’re interested in. As Dale Carnegie said “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”
Though I teach being interested as a leadership skill, if we incorporate this skill into our daily life and into our sales practices, we will attract more people and create better relationships. The toughest thing I had to learn to overcome, which has helped me immensely, was to continue to listen and ask questions even when the other person is speaking about something I’m experienced in and passionate about. In sales we’re taught to find commonalities and similar interests with our potential clients. I believe that many sales professionals are great at uncovering commonalities but start using that information for the wrong purpose. They try to let the other person know that they have something in common and believe that to be the main point when building a relationship.
Not too long ago, I would have jumped at an opportunity to share my military background with a fellow prior service member. After all, don’t our chances of winning the sale improve once we find something in common? I think our chances improve if we master this skill correctly. However, if we find commonality and only put ourselves into the story, our chances diminish even if we’re speaking about something they love.
I’m going to suggest that finding what the other person is passionate about is wonderful if we can refrain from telling them our story. See, the sales process is an emotional rollercoaster and we know that people are more willing to buy when they’re happy or afraid. Those are usually the top emotions for a buying decision. I personally find that helping people stay happy and think happy thoughts works better for me. Jeffrey Gitomer says “find their pleasure” and that’s what I always aim for. If you can get your prospect in a happy state of mind, they will associate you with happiness, and they will start to like you. It’s just how we’re created! We want to surround ourselves with people who make us happy.
Next time you’re in a meeting and the customer says that they’re excited about their child’s swimming competition, even if you’re Michael Phelps, do not start speaking about your swimming experiences! This of course applies to every other subject as well. That is my challenge for you, my friend!
Though this is geared towards sales professionals the universal laws of attracting people and getting people to like us work the same way in every aspect of our lives. If you’re leading a company or trying to get your child to listen to you, the same principles of listening, showing curiosity, and caring for their interests, will yield you the best results! To everyone, they’re the most important person in the world and if you allow them to feel that, you will forever gain a friend!
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