My whole life I have wanted to own a dog, but my busy work schedule kept me from considering owning one. Then, three years ago, after much thought and soul-searching, I realized that by adopting a dog I would get daily, healthy exercise and I would have a very necessary reason not to work without interruption therefore reducing my stress level.
It’s been a glorious journey. Adopting Rhondo, our male Boxer-Dalmatian-Who-Knows-What-Else Mix from the Humane Society has been one of the most rewarding and fun experiences of my life.
Not only is he one of the kindest beings I have ever encountered, full of love and joy, but also a compassionate and attentive companion. He pays attention to every move I make and his ability to tune into my mood and energy is quite stunning.
Which brings me (of course) to my favorite professional topic.
My passion to elevate the reputation of sales and its practitioners. I know that consultative selling has become an overused term but for lack of a better expression that’s what I have been focusing in on the last couple of years. Whether we call it consultative or mindful selling is really not the point. The point is that there are times when I feel that my dog has more intuition than many sales people out there. One of my friends sent me an e-mail the other day (she knows that I write a blog on selling) with the request to write about the lack of attention sales people pay to the people they call on.
My friend owns a PR agency and like most business owners gets solicited by sales people on a regular basis. According to my friend, the sales person mispronounced her name although she picked up the phone stating her name very clearly. It’s often the desperation to get their pitch across that keeps sales people from paying attention and listening.
Then, the sales person immediately jumped into the pitch, never asking if it was a good time to talk or not. And here is where the comparison with my dog comes in.
My dog Rhondo hardly ever interrupts my thoughts or work because he intuitively feels when I have time to play or when I am focused on something else. It’s the way I move and the way I sound that provides hints to my dog. Rhondo is in my office with me every single day. He never barks, never even makes a sound. He lies on the office couch (yes, he is spoiled!) and it is not until I put my headphones back into the holder, making a gentle click, signaling to him that I might be ready for a break. That’s when he starts moving. But it’s not until I get up and tell him that we are leaving the office that he actually leaves the couch to follow me.
Yes, granted, a telephone conversation is a bit different as you don’t have visual clues, but if you take the time to listen and pay attention you will pick up on certain other clues to provide you with a roadmap on how to move forward.
So here are Rhondo’s 5 Sales Lessons:
1) Always ask if it’s a good time to speak.
2) Never, ever start off with a pitch, especially not when you have just mispronounced the person’s name. It’s not only unprofessional, it’s also quite rude.
3) Find a way to emotionally connect. Nobody wants to be sold to, no matter how attractive the offering is. If you cannot connect to a person emotionally, they will not listen to what you have to say. My dog had to learn it the hard way. He now knows that eagerness and barking will only result in being banned from the office couch.
4) Show authentic interest in your prospects. Sales people who don’t focus on the human facets of conversations will not be able to sell successfully. Even worse, they will leave a bad impression. The sales person who called on my friend was trying to sell PR services (at least he was targeting the right person). It’s not the lack of interest in those services that will keep my friend from buying. It’s the lack of interest in her as a person that made her discontinue the dialogue. And on top of it, she shared the story with me and I am sharing it with all you fine people. Word of mouth is powerful.
5) And finally, paying attention to your environment, to the people you are communicating with is crucial, whether you are a human or a dog.
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