It comes down to a simple formula: Comfort + Momentum = Sale.
Sales begins with relationship. We want to agree with people we like. We want to be around them. We want to buy what they are selling. We buy what we are comfortable with.
But we are also distracted. We have too much stimulus. Too many things vie for our attention. So we also get lazy out of necessity. And we buy what is in front of us – that which has the momentum at the moment when we are prepared to ink the deal.
So if you are selling or think you might someday, build relationships early and often. Maintain them. Cultivate them. Deepen them. And when a sale is anywhere in sight, even off in the far distance, keep at it. Stay present. Don’t be afraid to push.
After all: Comfort + Momentum = Sale.
Language matters. You want to influence someone? It could be to offer feedback or an opinion or make a proposal of some kind. But you really want the other person to listen. So you say,
- Would you like to hear . . .
- Are you interested in . . .
- May I offer you . . .
Each of these questions are easy to refuse. They ask the listener to evaluate you and your ability to contribute, to determine if your opinion or idea is worth their time. Even if they say yes, your question has already given them a mindset of judging you and questioning your value.
If on the other hand you use different language . . .
Ask someone if they are open and you are asking them to judge themselves. Are they open-minded (a desirable trait) or closed-minded? No one wants to be closed-minded. So they answer yes. And as you offer your idea, opinion, or feedback, they will listen with the mindset of trying to live up to that desirable trait of being open-minded.
I walked out of a breakfast meeting and down 50th street in mid-town Manhattan the other day. I’m used to the sights and sounds of the city. But I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me this day.
A homeless individual is nothing unusual. But THIS individual was uncommon in a remarkable way.
All he did was smile and say, “Good morning,” to each person who passed him.
This may sound strange, but he had one of the most brilliant smiles I’ve ever seen. And his enthusiasm as he wished each passerby a good morning was absolutely infectious. I’d be richer than Bill Gates if I could bottle and sell this homeless man’s energy and charisma.
Of course, I can’t sell that. But I can choose to smile. I can smile more often and more broadly. I can choose to be more enthusiastic.
We can all choose these things. Every day we are selling ourselves. We sell ourselves as coworkers and friends and family members. We sell ourselves as the kind of person others want to work with and be around.
This man sitting on the sidewalk sold me on his smile. From that I would have bought anything he was selling. In this case he had no physical product. So I gave him a dollar and told him he had an amazing smile. He seemed very appreciative, but I knew as I walked away that I had gotten the better end of the deal. One dollar was a small price to pay for the newly placed smile I had on my own face.
In every medium it turns out the same. There is nothing with a greater ROI than a question.
Selling something? Ask a question. Your chance of sale just shot up.
Speaking somewhere? Ask a question. Your audience just got more engaged, energized and interested in your topic.
Tweeting? Ask a question. Tweets tend to go viral that ask others for some kind of input.
Talking to your spouse or kids? Ask a question. They’ll be more excited about the conversation.
And the beauty of all of this? Questions are free. The return is unlimited. So ask away.
BTW, what are your favorite questions?
I don’t care if you are a salesperson. Don’t sell.
When you sell, by its very nature you are trying to manipulate. You are attempting to convince someone to make a decision that favors you (even if it also favors them). You are perceived as pushy and self-serving.
Even worse, it makes people not want to buy.
So don’t sell. Instead, help!
Figure out how to help people. Help them with advice (and not advice to buy your product). Help them with information (even information that might lead them not to buy). Help them with introductions.
Help them any way you can.
The more you help, the more they’ll like you. The more they’ll trust you. The more they’ll want to buy your product.
And you will spend your life helping rather than selling.
Before you read on, answer this question. In the US, which state residents do you think have the greatest sense of pride for their state?
Growing up I lived in California and New York. I thought both places were cool. I loved Los Angeles and knew I wanted to live in New York City. I guess I figured I was proud of both places.
Then I went to college.
And I met someone from Texas.
Wow! They take state pride to a whole new level. I mean, I liked New York a lot but I never thought of bringing New York State shaped notepads to school with me to avert homesickness. I had no paraphernalia on my walls proclaiming my love for my state. In fact, I always thought the I heart NY merchandise was for non-New Yorkers. But these Texas students were ablaze with love for their homes.
Twenty five years ago the Texas Department of Transportation used this state pride to wage one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history. The state had a litter problem. So they ran a series of ads with well-known Texans – Stevie Ray Vaughn, Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey, Ed “Too Tall” Jones – stating the now famous line, “Don’t Mess With Texas.”
This was brilliant. The problem wasn’t that a bunch of horrible Oklahomans and Louisianans were crossing into Texas to litter. It was a homegrown problem. But the ad made it seem like an outsider problem. In fact, they equated not littering with being a great Texan. So every Texan who was proud of Texas suddenly had a new source of pride – not littering.
And littering declined – a lot. In the first 4 years this ad ran litter declined by 72%.
There is a great lesson in here about influence and human change. When you want to shift behavior, yours or someone else’s, tie the change to a built in source of pride.
Oh yeah, and also, don’t mess with Texas.