by Kelly Kramer
Have you ever wondered why people keep pictures of their family on their desk? Why they have a picture of themselves with a star or with a President? Or even why they dress differently or dress very sharply? It is because they are proud of these things and would like to tell you a story about them. These trophies are what I call “painfully obvious conversation starters.”
One of the core basics of “How to win friends and influence people”—aka selling—is to get people to talk about themselves. If they give you these painfully obvious clues to start off a conversation and you fail to use them, you should stop selling and find a job in the back room where no one has to talk to you. It is that obvious and yet so few sales experts use this to build a relationship.
To give a personal example of just how many people overlook the obvious is easy for me. My office at the store sits toward the front of the showroom and is open to the public because I sell on the floor. On my wall beside my desk are some of my trophies, the book covers of two of my first three books/ manuals, and a framed copy of one of my first columns from 1996. To make things more obvious, all three of those trophies have my picture on them.
Yes, I have an ego—some might say a big one and that I want people to know about these accomplishments. Once in a while an untrained observer (customer), will ask me about them and, of course, I have to play it down, yet let them know what a big-time expert I am. Like I always say, you have to use every advantage you have over the competition.
But then my store will get a new representative, one whom I would expect to be a trained observer. It amazes me that with such an obvious display, about 20% are sharp enough to even notice those cues. Here they are, trying to start off on the right foot and build relationships, and they show me that they don’t even know the basics of sales. These are the team members I try not to get to know because they won’t be around long.
There are some painfully obvious openers and trophies that you need to use in starting up a positive relationship. Remember the idea is to get your new friend to talk about herself, because you are not in her home, where it is much easier to find trophies talk about. You need to notice what she wears, and what she drove up in. If she drove up in a flashy or vintage car, she wants you to praise and admire it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met the customer in the parking lot to express a genuine interest in the newest model sports car or a classic ’57 Chevy. That 10-minute opening is gold to a new beginning.
My common interest in their pride and joy is a no-brainer. When my new customer is dressed to the nines, I’m quick to jokingly say, “You get the best- dressed award for the day.” She then explains the event she was just at and we are off to talking about it. When a guy walks in with a sports jersey or fishing hat, it’s too easy: You just have to prove you’re not an amateur.
Getting someone to talk about herself truly is the best way to win a friend. Everyone has some degree of an ego and we all love to talk about ourselves. Also, remember to get a name early in the introduction and use it “early and often.”
Make things easy on yourself, pay attention, and find the trophies early.
Thanks for reading.