Kids and pets

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Volume 26/Number 21; March 4/11, 2013

One of my first jobs after college was as a children’s photographer.

Being in my early 20s and single, you might say my experience with kids was very limited. But something about having to learn to make people (kids) smile for a living quickly changed all that. Needless to say if the parents don’t see their kids smiling or, even worse, they see them crying, those photos don’t sell well.

Interestingly, as I was putting this column together it dawned on me that learning to make people smile quickly was the best gift a future sales advisor could have been given. Getting a quick smile from my customers is what I try to achieve first in any situation.

To prove my point, just watch any comedian on stage. The occupation lives and dies on getting that first laugh or smile. Well, that scenario is not that far off from our own as sales advisors. We all know that a fun conversation leads to a much more relaxed selling situation.

Look at all the great salespeople throughout time. All of them are people you would enjoy being around. Unlike the unethical selling tricks of “Free, Free, Free,” “Buy One Get One,” “The Sale Ends Today,” or making it hard to get back small deposits, these great salespeople understand that likability builds a comfortable and trusting relationship.

Once that is established, your knowledge can finish the job.

In my book, “Selling Clean,” I have a chapter titled, “Approaching and Greeting.” This is where I explain how to take advantage of what I call “painfully obvious openers.”

These are things like a team logo on caps and jerseys; names on work shirts, and classic cars.

If your buyer(s) show you any of these giveaways you are insane not to talk about them right from the start. They are giving you the things that interest them. So everyone smiles by simply talking about it.

But even happier openings can be found from people with kids in tow. I admit I have the advantage over many of you on this one because I was a children’s photographer. For instance, after seeing a few thousand kids and having their ages written down for me, I can tell you the age of your child within a few months. Recently I had a mom in the store with her little boy and girl. Meeting them and looking at the little girl, I said, “Let me guess, you’re almost four and your little brother is about one-and-a-half.”

Mom smiled in amazement and said, “Emma is four next week and Tyler is one year five months.” So I got lucky. But even if I was wrong, I would still have started off with a relaxing opening. Then stories of these two began and 10 minutes later we were talking carpet.

The joke I tell my customers is “I don’t have children, but I’m told that the terrible twos can last forever.” That one sparks some interesting stories.

But my most fun is talking about pets. Personally I’m a huge pet person. I have cute photos of my pets on my desk and every pet lover stops to look at them and a more pleasant conversation begins.

The problem is my fellow sales advisors’ customers see my desk and walk over, too. Then I’m in the awkward position of getting along with that buyer better than their own advisor. I can’t help it if I’m more fun than they are. But know that pet lovers consider their pets family.

My other book (plug here), “Stop Selling Start Winning” is packed with these ideas.

Thanks for reading.

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