Chloe is a 5-year old terrier pit bull mix. She was so afraid of the thunder and lighting this afternoon (shaking uncontrollably) that we moved her into the office and put a Thunder-shirt on her to calm her down. She among numerous other sweet dogs are up for adoption at P.A.G.O.
Let me just say the topic of this blog excites me for a number of different reasons. I was actually asked by a contact on LinkedIn who enjoyed another blog I wrote, The Art of the Sales Call, to expand more on this topic. I believe in it wholeheartedly and it applies to virtually everyone whether your profession is sales or not. I’m talking about “likeability.” My thoughts are plain and simply… people don’t buy from people they don’t like.
Whether you know it or not… we all started selling at a very young age and do so virtually every single day. Let me elaborate.
- Did you (not your parents-haha) sell candy, raffle tickets, Girl Scout cookies, lemonade or anything else as a child?
- When you were younger, ever convince one parent to let you do or have something when the other parent had already said no?
- What about talking someone or a group of friends into doing something?
- Or perhaps you were at the store and “sweet-talked” the clerk into letting you exchange, return or get a refund when store policy dictated otherwise?
- And maybe… just maybe you talked your significant other into a vacation with your in-laws? That took some real skills!!!
Among all of the above, I grew up mowing lawns with my twin brother and we had quite the lucrative business. My point being is that whether your official job title includes the word “sales” or not, personally and professionally, we are all sales people. I do not consider myself a software or insurance salesperson… I’m in “life” sales each and every day like you.
A while ago a mentor of mine told me that she would rather have someone with people skills any day of the week and twice on Sunday rather than someone who had knowledge. You can teach knowledge. In my opinion, it’s very hard to teach people skills and it’s not something you can feign either. Sure we all have skills in “pretending.” Pretending to have a good time when you’re not or liking someone when you don’t although it’s hard to mask subliminal tells or queues. Pretending only gets you so far. Similar to the natural ability that a professional athlete or musician might have, I believe people skills, for the most part, are hard-wired into a person’s genetic make-up and then nurtured for better or worse during one’s upbringing although change is possible depending on the catalyst.
My Dad would tell you he could tell if he likes you by looking at the back of your head – if it works so be it. Don’t think he’s ever been wrong now that I think about it. Clearly, likeability is subjective and the perception of possessing it or the lack there of would depend on each individual. So how do you think “likeability” impacts one’s sales performance as it relates to what I like to call the “Five P’s Of “Selling?” Not to be confused with the Five Ps of “Marketing.” In no particular order they are…
- Product knowledge.
- Product availability.
- Perception of service.
- Point of purchase readiness.
And once again, if I haven’t made it abundantly clear upon reading further you’ll see that I’m a little biased. I believe that all things being equal (and some times not) that “likeability” more times than not is more important than any of the “Five P’s” and will generate more sales for the person that is “more” likeable. Granted, we’re not talking about specific industries, products, services or prospect scenarios… indulge me a little while writing about nonspecific circumstances.
More frequently I’ve found that if a prospect likes you and trusts you they will pay more to work with you than with others who may have the same product and/or service for less. In most industries with most products, salespeople pretty much have access to the same pricing (in the same region) unless they’re doing something shall we say unscrupulous or off the books just to get a sell. Many times I’ve seen other agents quote different products or premium options claiming it was the same as my proposal. If the prospect is willing to do a little fact-finding and the other agent is willing to cooperate then most times the truth comes out. Then regardless of what happens, the prospect/customer is happy and that indeed is what matters most.
Don’t get me wrong, you do have to know your products. My personal policy is that if I can’t answer a question with 100% accuracy, not 99%, then I always provide my best guess and ask for time to confirm the answer and get back to them expeditiously. If they like you… the prospect will give you time to get the information needed.
If whatever you’re selling is readily available then the customer won’t have to wait and this point is moot. If there is a backorder or wait-time “and” you can convey with complete accuracy when the product and/or service will be delivered (and their life doesn’t depend on it) then most are willing to wait. This point is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine. If I’ve hired you to provide a product or perform a service, there is a wait time “and” I’m willing to wait for it then by golly see that it is delivered on time. If you tell me that my Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator will be ready on September 15th, 2015 then kindly be sure that it is ready “on” that date. And if you can deliver it earlier… that much the better.
I can’t believe I just wrote “by golly” and did you catch the Looney Tunes Marvin the Martian reference?
As sales professionals we represent our company… every department from the front office to shipping. If during your “courting” of the prospect, which a great time to sale “value” above and beyond the price, you service them well enough to where they want to do business with you, then the prospect has every right to expect the same level of service with you and your company once they become a customer. Now, this customer may have problems because like the bumper sticker says, and excuse my reference, “stuff happens.” This however is the perfect opportunity to respond quickly, remedy the problem and shine in your customer’s eyes… show them why they paid more. Anybody will tell you it’s how you respond when something bad happens that counts.
Let’s assume your prospect is not kicking the tires and is ready to buy. If as a salesperson you have done your job and given them the product and/or service they are looking for at a price that meets their needs and resolved any trepidation they might have… if they like you they will buy and buy now. If for some reason they are not then it’s actually quite simple. You have not done a good job reading your customer’s “readiness” state, answered all their questions or put at ease any concerns they have. Keep in mind that you do have to “ask” for the sell (at the right time)… so many sales professionals simply do not ask. And prospects do not like to be “sold.” They like to be informed, treated respectfully and make educated decisions arriving to the conclusion themselves… that you already knew.
I would like to go on record and write that Sales in every industry is different, but there are common principles of which all sales professionals can agree upon. In writing this blog, I am making a lot of general assumptions irrespective of special circumstances or wild cards. I don’t know if I’ve made my case or not so let me summarize.
If they like you… they will likely be willing to pay more.
If they like you… they will give you time to get the answer they need.
If they like you… they will be willing to wait for the product and/or service to be delivered.
If they like you… they will expect the same level of service from your company and should receive it.
If they like you… they will buy when you ask for the sell because you’ve answered all their questions, removed any doubt and let them arrive to the same conclusion.
The craft of selling certainly involves more than what’s been written here and countless blogs and exchanges have been and will be written on the subject. How you say something, the words you use, using your own words instead of someone else’s, keeping it simple, timing, professional couth, etc. all play their part. I just happen to feel that “likeability” plays a larger part than most and this is just one salesperson’s opinion. And I welcome other perspectives on the matter. I’m open, willing to listen and welcome any feedback to get the collaborative juices flowing and thank you for the opportunity to learn from you as well.
And as with anything I write… my hope is that you’ll be able to take away just one thing that will help you or give you an idea of your own. Feel free to follow my RSS feed by clicking here.
In closing I do have just one question for you… are you likeable?
BY: Cory Prado
Once again I was up late channel surfing and stumbled across one of those syndicated judge shows on TV. You know what I’m talking about… the litigants have agreed to settle their dispute in our forum. This particular show was Judge Marilyn Milian and I have to say it was quite entertaining. I look forward to watching them all day long when I’m older and retired in between naps.
The case being tried involved a woman who neglected to put her shopping cart back into the outdoor cart depository in the parking lot at the grocery store and it ended up damaging another woman’s car somehow. And Judge Milian exclaims something along the lines “I’m so sick of people in this country who can’t just do the right thing… whatever happened to common decency. You couldn’t walk the extra ten years to put the cart away?” Well, this got me thinking about a lot of things… things we all see and do (or not) every day.
Now, so that we’re all on the same page and talking about the same thing I’d like to start with a few definitions, courtesy of Merriam Webster, to keep things in perspective as you read further.
Chivalry: An honorable and polite way of behaving especially toward women.
Manners: The way that a person normally behaves especially while with other people.
Decency: Polite, moral, and honest behavior and attitudes that show respect for other people. The behaviors that people in a society consider to be proper and respectable.
My tendency when discussing a topic with anyone, whether it is personal, professional, verbal or written is to listen and/or ask enough questions on the matter so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding between myself and other parties. Insert catch phrase… communication is key.
Definitions aside now may be a good time to inject a customary boilerplate disclaimer, as this may be the most controversial blog I write. In no way, shape or form is this or any blog I write meant for anything other than educational, recreational or informative purposes. My blogs simply share opinions and observations and are not meant to start any type of controversial debate… to each their own respectfully.
So what I’ve done is compile a list of things I’ve seen and heard of and added my opinion, unique twist or twisted sense of humor to it. Again, my apologies in advance if this blog is in any way misinterpreted. Although I happen to agree with most if not all of the following I do catch myself at times forgetting to do some of them. Just remember that this is a judgment-free zone… it’s just food for thought.
11 little things we should all think about if we’re not already doing so…
Common Sense: If for some reason you can’t, at the very least put the cart in a place where it won’t block a parking spot or roll and damage someone’s car. How would you like to receive your first door ding compliments of a stranger?
Common Sense: Aside from the fines associated with littering, I don’t understand why some people do this so casually regardless of how small it is. I find myself picking up trash regularly and even other people’s trash left in my truck bed without my knowing. Yes, I know it seems like picking up one piece of trash won’t make a difference… but it all helps if only a little. Many people keep trash bags in their cars and empty them later and this is why they make car air fresheners.
Common Sense: Take a bag with you or mark the spot somehow so at the very least you can come back and pick it up later. In some places you can actually be fined for not picking up after your pet. Pet ownership involves both the good and the bad, but the good far outweighs the bad. Others don’t want to step in dog poop anymore than you do. I’ve stepped in poop with my flip-flops… oh what fond memories.
Common Sense: Legally, pedestrians always have the right of way. Most times you’ll see they still have time left on the crosswalk timer, but I’ve seen people speed up just to turn before pedestrians crossed. Are you in that much of a hurry to where a couple minutes will make a difference?
Common Sense: Yah… this is a little bit of a pet peeve of mine. I was eating dinner with my niece one night at Moe’s and a group of teenagers behind us were eating and cussing (loud enough to hear). My niece wasn’t paying attention, but I went over and asked them to be mindful of their language. Now, I wouldn’t do this if I thought it would have created a hostile reaction, but just be careful and courteous.
Common Sense: All in one breath and in no particular order… loan her your coat if it’s cold, help her take off or put on her coat, pull out her chair when sitting, make sure she’s under the umbrella if raining as she got all dressed up just for you, open the car door for her, open any door and allow her to walk through first, pay for the first date at minimum, walk her to the door or text her to make sure she got home safely and do give her the option of either picking her up or meeting her… whatever she feels most comfortable with doing. Chalk another one up to chivalry… it’s not dead.
Common Sense: Whether it is money or something else, return it in the condition you returned it and do so in a timely manner. And if you can’t then perhaps it’s not best to borrow in the first place or others may stop lending to you. Depending on what you borrow or how much (money) it could cause unwanted tension in your relationship and be the elephant in the room each time you see your friend.
Common Sense: Indeed it likely won’t ruin their day if you don’t, but I think people really appreciate it when you do and it might make their day. Many car windows these days are tinted so you can’t see inside very well so every time someone does this for me, I actually roll down my window and wave.
Common Sense: Perhaps you just want to protect your car from door dings (which is fine), the parking spaces are really small or you just can’t park very well. Parking is limited enough in most places and if you must just park further out and walk or take your chances with what could happen like everyone else.
Common Sense: Yes, we all run late (and some times due to events that can’t be helped), but if it’s important enough then leave earlier. I like to be early for everything and particularly for a girl… it’s OK if you have to wait on them.
Common Sense: The little things we do and say can make such a big difference and either “make” or “break” someone’s day and yours as well. You know what I’m talking about… saying “sir,” “ma’am,” “good morning,” “how are you,” thank you,” “ you’re welcome,” “please,” “have a nice day,” etc. I think you know where I’m going here… and look people in the eye when they’re talking to you and don’t interrupt them. Also, respect your parents and the elderly as in many countries they are revered. A friend of mine joked with his daughter and jokingly said your Mom and I brought you into this world and can take you out of it. My point… treat others how you would want to be treated with honor, respect and dignity.
Other little every day things I like to do…
- Let someone behind me in line with a couple items go in front of me.
- Tell someone their brake or headlights are out or their tire is running low on air.
- Help someone change a tire, jumpstart his or her car or push a broken down car out of the way and safely off the street.
- Spot someone at the gym or let him or her work in with me… gym code.
- Going to the “20 item or less” line with 20 items or less… yes I actually count my items.
- Turn in lost items to the lost and found. This happens a lot at the Y for some reason. I’ve seen people post lost items they’ve found on Facebook… that’s cool.
- Pick up something someone’s unknowingly dropped and give it to the person that dropped it.
- Keep your word and your promises… integrity is an invaluable currency.
- Always conduct oneself, personally and professionally, with honesty, transparency and integrity.
- Heck, I’ve even picked up turtles in the middle of the road and moved them to the side so they didn’t get run over. Watch out… they bite!
Once again please understand that I’m not standing on a soapbox, as I don’t do all of these all the time myself. I’m not judging anyone that does or does not do so and I certainly wouldn’t say anything to anyone. I do however believe in karma (as I’ve seen it work too many times) and the words of American author and director Paul Auster.
“Good begets good; evil begets evil; and even if the good you give is met by evil, you have no choice but to go on giving better than you get. Otherwise-and these were Willy’s exact words-why bother to go on living?” -Paul Auster, Timbuktu
I also try and treat people how I’d like to be treated and if they don’t we should all try and take the high road. We don’t know their personal circumstances (or they yours) as they may have just had a really bad day, received some bad news, gotten in a car accident i.e. we just don’t know. Unless we can walk in their shoes, I like to let it roll off my back and give people the benefit of the doubt.
And for all the people out there who live to help and please, you know who you are… the heroes, humanitarians, diehard do-gooders and servicemen in all branches of the U.S. Military. Thanks for all you do and although we shouldn’t need protection for trying to help someone, the Good Samaritan law protects you.
A lot of these things may seem like common sense, but we all need reminded of the simple good we can do that can make such a big difference in someone else’s life. I’ll leave you with a video I’m reminded of and saw again this morning that I have to share… it gets me every time I watch it.
P.S. Thanks Mom and Dad for making me who I am today.
BY: Cory Prado
As we get older things change, one of those being how much we sleep. Despite staying as busy as I am, and am usually only home if I’m working or sleeping, I frequently find myself up in the middle of the night. Now, I do keep a post-it pad on my nightstand so if I’m awoken by something I can quickly write it down in hopes of going back to sleep.
Getting back on topic… this past weekend I awoke in the middle of the night and instead of working tried to find Law and Order on TV like I usually. While watching TV, I was reminded me of a visit from my sister and nieces in Orlando late last year. We were eating at Sweet Tomato’s (which is the best place to go if you want to gorge yourself on healthy food) and we began talking about VCRs, corded telephones, TVs with remote controls and countless other things my nieces were too young to remember.
Well, I thought reflecting on all the things my generation has seen might be a fun topic for my next blog topic so started writing this last week. You could say this is a list of things you would remember if you were of a certain age or if you’re a child of the 80’s… I like to call it my “Top 25 Now and Then.”
Keep in mind this is meant to be light-hearted and funny and not poking fun at any generation and also to the best of my recollection. I’ve certainly heard many times from my Dad how he walked to school, up hill and in the snow wearing the same pair of shoes he wore for school, soccer and everywhere else. So here we go…
#1. Now… we can take our cell phones and walk into the other room to get some privacy. Then… if you didn’t have a long enough phone cord to your phone, which was attached to a wall to walk down the hall, you had no privacy. Oh and call waiting… we were lucky if we had it.
#2. Now… we can comfortably change the TV channel with the push of a button. Then… we had to actually get off the coach to turn a knob and to change the TV channel. We didn’t have channel surfing.
#3. Now… we can take pictures and wirelessly sync them to our computer for printing as soon as we walk in the door. Then… we took film from a camera to a pharmacy and waited days for prints. If we wanted to share them we made extra copies.
#4. Now… you can take your music with you anywhere via an iPod, phone or other music player. Then… if you were cool you had a boom box and if you were really lucky you had a Sony Walkman attached to your hip dancing to your beats – don’t think we had twerking either.
#5. Now… you can create documents on your laptop, cell phone or tablet and make as many copies as you want on your desktop printer. Then… we had typewriters, everybody took typing at school and you took your finished document to a copy machine often at a store.
#6. Now… you can reheat anything in a microwave in just a few seconds. Then… everything was cooked on or in a stove and the first microwave was almost as big as a 27” CRT tube TV. We watched popcorn pop in the microwave instead of watching TV.
#7. Now… if you want to buy anything you can go online and click a few buttons. Then… you looked at the newspaper, made some phone calls, got in a car, spent money on gas and went to a store where you were lucky and surprised to run into a friend rather than know they checked in there on Facebook.
#8. Now… if you’re meeting someone and can’t find him or her you can call their cell phone to find out where they are. Then… you met someone on time, waited, looked around and possibly yelled out his or her name until you found him or her. When meeting Mom and Dad you were “never” late.
#9. Now… if you need to research something you can “Google” it. Then… you got Mom and Dad to take you to the library and you had to use something called the Dewey Decimal System or look it up in an encyclopedia set you had in your home.
#10. Now… if you want to write a letter you email it. Then… you handwrote a letter, which took more time, put a stamp on it and left it for the mailman to deliver often waiting weeks (instead of seconds) for a response and we had no “read receipt.”
#11. Now… you can stream movies direct to your TV, cell phone or tablet. Then… you got into a car, if you could talk your parents into doing so, and drove to the movie store where you walked up and down isles trying to find the right movie hoping they had enough VHS tape copies for you to rent one.
#12. Now… people have one if not several cell phones. Then… you had a phone attached to a wall and when cell phones came out they came with a battery pack and strap and you were really cool if you had a phone “mounted” in the center console of your car.
#13. Now… files and documents are saved on thumb and external hard drives with hundreds of gigabytes of storage space. Then… everybody had “hard” paper copies and when computers did come out we had a 5.25-inch floppy disks with a storage capacity of a whopping 360 kilobytes.
#14. Now… you can see what’s on TV any time by clicking the “Guide” button on your TV remote control. Then… you thumbed through the TV guide or the local newspaper and if you recorded a show on your VCR you prayed nobody recorded over it.
#15. Now… if you want to send someone a message during class you can text them. Then… you hand wrote a note and coordinated a strategic collaborative effort among classmates to get your note delivered without the teacher catching you.
#16. Now…you connect to the Internet by clicking a button and in seconds you’re connected to the world. Then… you clicked a button and waited for what seemed an eternity to connect to the Internet while listening to a constant and annoying fax sound.
#17. Now… record players or turntables are used to mix mad beats. Then… record players were used to play LPs or vinyl records.
#18. Now… we have printers that print in more colors than you can imagine and in 3-D or holographic printing and can print on a variety of different services. Then… we had dot matrix printers on a continuous feed and they printed in black ink “only.”
#19. Now…they have computers as thick as a small book with up to 1 terabyte of storage space. Then… we had a commodore 64 and it didn’t even have a hard drive. You had to hook up an external tape drive or use a floppy disk.
#20. Now… you can buy individual songs via iTunes or other online music venues. Then… we had to buy the whole“cassette” with every song including songs you didn’t even like.
#21. Now… kids come home from school, do their homework and stay inside to play on the computer, games or hang out with friends texting on their phones. Then… kids came home from school, did their homework and were told to go outside, run, play and come home when it got dark.
#22. Now… red M&Ms are good for you. Then… they weren’t.
#23. Now… you can play 3-D games with amazing graphics with people all over the world. Then… the coolest game we had was Atari or Battleship, it wasn’t electronic battleship and your opponent was directly in front of you and you made your own sound effects.
#24. Now… MTV shows everything but music videos and you have to tune in during certain times to see them. Then… MTV actually played music videos all the time.
#25. Now… you can buy an 85” high definition TV that weighs 85 pounds. Then… you were lucky if you had a 32” CRT tube TV that weighed in excess of 300 pounds.
Life really would have been simpler had we known and had all the things we have now… innovation and hindsight. I really enjoyed writing this blog as it’s given me insight into something else… many things in life are cyclical. By that I mean big hair, neon colors, high tops, recessions, pleats, spandex, the perfect peg on jeans, jean shorts, turned up collars, etc. I’m still waiting on my Members Only jacket to come back in style.
When you think about it, it is truly amazing the things that my generation has seen let along my Mom and Dad’s. Imagine where things will be in ten, fifteen or twenty-five years from now.
BY: Cory Prado