The Rossiter Report – Volume 3; Number 3
By Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS
“Crossing the Line in Getting to Yes”
“What part of No don’t you understand? “
As our understanding of the marketing process deepens and we hone our approach to helping our clients unlock what they truly want and need, business owners are bombarded with experts telling them that a customer’s “no” is really an invitation to proceed with the sales pitch; that a potential client doesn’t really know his or her own mind (or the state of his or her budget) so it is up to the business owner to push past the rejection and lead a prospect to acceptance – to “yes”. I hope that some small part of those of you who are reading this is recoiling and feeling uncomfortable. Why would I hope this for you when helping someone to a better way is a good thing? Perhaps the following recounting of an experience I just had while trying to run errands at the mall will help.
It was a typically clichéd gloriously sunny mid-winter day. I was happy, energized, and excited in my productivity as I emerged into the main corridor of the mall through the revolving doors and headed towards my appointment at the tech store. After having traversed barely 100 feet, a well-dressed young man approached me, product in hand, (making direct eye contact and holding it) and asked me for a moment of my time. As I have experienced this approach before and truly did not have the time to spend, or the desire to purchase this particular product, I politely declined stating that I did not have the time. The young man nodded acquiescence, smiling the smile of one who has heard this line before as I breezed past him on my way to my appointment. I was relieved at the apparent success I had won and was feeling rather triumphant in my newly gained skill at deflecting unwanted attention.
My relief and triumphal pride were short-lived. Realizing that I had to pass the same kiosk on the way out of the mall, I armed myself with the same response and firmness of delivery that I had utilized earlier. As I approached the kiosk, the same young man locked his gaze on me and proceeded on the same tack as before, this time with a similarly fortified firmness as I. In response to my honest deflection stating the lack of time in my schedule, the young man took hold of my hand, proceeded to examine my newly acquired manicure, slathering his product all over my hand destroying my manicure in the process (which I had done for an appointment with a client following the completion of my errands). My attempts to take my hand away were rebuffed firmly yet with a smile as he continued his sales pitch in the face of my increasingly firm objections and rejection. When he had finished, allowing me to go on my way without a sale, I could feel nothing but repugnance at having been forced to comply with the salesman’s demands against my express wishes to the contrary. There are several words for this type of behavior, depending on the type of demand made – extortion, coercion, rape, etc. PLEASE NOTE: all of these terms describe criminal behavior. Do not let this scenario become part of your sales or service repertoire.
With the pressure to improve one’s Bottom Line continually, it is easy to see how easy it is to grasp desperately for the sale. Under this pressure, it is easy to cross the fine line between guiding a potential purchaser and mugging that same person for the money in his wallet. To keep things in perspective, keep these things in mind:
- It is a fatal mistake to think of your potential clients as Prospects. The instant you take the humanity out of the interaction, is the instant you shut down your ability to have a relationship with anyone who purchases from you. Miners go prospecting for cold, hard, inanimate objects. Although these inanimate objects are valuable, once they are obtained, they are forgotten in the quest for another similar or better object. The Prospector misses out on the satisfaction that the Gem Cutter experiences in getting to know the raw stone well enough to be able to gently yet precisely chip away the pieces that detract from the stone’s true beauty. The Prospector, having sold his nugget to the highest bidder, completely misses out on the joy of painstakingly polishing away the cloudiness to reveal only brilliant light reflecting off all the newly revealed facets. The tragedy of the Prospector is that he never becomes part of bringing his acquisition to life. He misses out on experiencing the fullness of a relationship with his discovery; he is on a never-ending search for lifeless nuggets rather than on a continual journey to discover more light and life from each nugget.
My experience has shown me that the businesses with the most vibrant Bottom Lines capable of sustaining themselves are those who choose, through their sales process, to be Gem Cutters searching for the rough jewel to nurture into brilliance. By focusing your sales attention on developing an honest, genuine relationship with each client and potential client through consistently applying the Three C’s of Superlative Service (TM) (Consciousness, Compassion, and Communication), you transition from the role of Prospector into the role of Gem Cutter, searching deep into the heart of each person who has come to you as the solution to his or her problem. The deeper you look into the rough stone that is your client (or potential client), the more thoroughly you will be able to solve the problem presented. Moreover, you will uncover new ways in which you may serve him or her, thereby increasing his or her value to you as well as your value to him or her.
The prospector’s job is an important one because without his efforts, the rough gem would remain buried. The critical steps here are to prospect with the heart of a Gem Cutter then transition into the role of Gem Cutter once the Prospector’s job is completed.
- When faced with rejection (be it in the form of, “I can’t afford it,”, “I don’t have the time,”, etc.) and the potential client hasn’t hung up or walked away (as I should have done with the manicure-in-a-bottle situation), ask for permission to contact him or her at an agreed upon time that is more convenient. If you are still faced with rejection, gauge the situation to determine if setting the conversation further out (a month or so) would be acceptable. If rejection is still the order of the day, apologize for delaying him or her and send your still potential client off with wishes for a wonderful day. Anything more than this creates a sense of having been attacked and violated (as I felt by the manicure-in-a-bottle man). As soon as you make a potential client or client feel attacked or violated, you have lost them, possibly forever, doing everything in his or her power to escape.
- When listening to advice on how to attract more clients and initiate more sales, pay attention to the following:
o What sort of language does the author/speaker use to refer to clients? Is it cold, distant, and dehumanizing or filled with dignity, respect, and humanity?
o How does the author’s/speaker’s approach make YOU feel? Does it leave you feeling calm and energized or does it leave you clamoring for a good scrub-down and full of stress? This is also how your potential clients and existing clients will feel.
o Does the author’s/speaker’s approach fill you with pride and excitement about meeting potential clients and converting them into purchasing fans , or are you filled with dread and loathing at the thought of another contact in the manner advised?
If the sales advice you are entertaining does not make you feel like a respected Human Being, then it will not make your potential clients or existing clients feel any other way. If the approach feels wrong, it is wrong for you. The best sales happen when you are authentic (true to who you are), genuine in your desire to help solve the problem, and connected to the person you are trying to help (the Three C’s of Superlative Service (TM) in a nutshell). With these thoughts in the forefront of every client interaction, you will never have to worry about crossing the line again.
Copyright © 2014 – Cathleen E. Rossiter, PCS
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