The first BIG sales lesson “LEAVE YOUR LAPTOP AT HOME”

Your first meeting with a potential new customer is dangerous.

You may have been planning what you’re going to say to him or her or maybe not planning at all just “see how it goes’. Trouble is mankind (a social animal) has been evolving for half a million years and in that time ‘nature’ has equipped each one of us with a subconscious survival radar. Stay or Go…Flight or fight….Friend or Foe? Our human brains are never working harder than when we are in these social settings. It is instantaneous and uncannily accurate and women’s radar operates five times faster than man’s

In fact our potential customer’s brain radar starts to subconsciously assess us as we ‘take that first walk’ ….the one from his office door to his desk.

At Rank Xerox (my sales alma mater in the early 1970’s) they used to tell us that the customer makes that buying decision as we approach his desk…it’s just that he doesn’t realise it. And it turns out they were right.

It seems (according to 21st Century behavioural psychologists) that rational ‘thought processing’ in order to reach a conclusion is largely an illusion; we actually make decisions based on how the other person made us ‘feel’. In other words ALL human decision making is mostly ‘emotional’.

Good looking felons regularly get away with their crimes in court….Stupid charming people with ‘charisma’ often get top jobs just because they look good…..Average looking but brilliant candidates get more rejection letters.

We ‘average’ to ‘ugly’ looking souls (with little or no ‘looks’ nor charisma nor charm) just have to try to tip the scales a little in our favour.

We can benefit from some of the work on human communication carried out by Prof Albert Mehabrian in 1967. He said that his research showed that human communication is based on 55% what things ‘look’ like; 38% what they sound like and only 7% on the actual rational facts and content.

In American political circles they call it ‘The Optics’: it’s not what was intended to be communicated that counts but what it ‘looked like’ after the event.

So on meeting a new customer go all out to make them feel good about themselves. Let them be right even when they’re wrong. Smile..look happy. When they start talking you stop yapping: never miss a good opportunity to Shut Up!. Ask them all about their stuff and their problems and listen at length- no interruptions. Plan far more beforehand what you’re going to ‘ask’ them rather than what you want to ‘tell’ them.

Act in a confident manner even if you don’t feel it…confidence is very attractive. If you don’t feel it fake it…every successful person does it because it works. President Lincoln was once asked by a journalist if he was ever frightened as a young man. He replied “Of course I was frightened but I pretended not to be…..and very soon I wasn’t” Recent academic research has shown that: Fake it ‘til you make it is a very effective strategy.

So next time you meet a prospect for the first time stop trying to impress with a spate of words and a carefully crafted presentation. Take it from me the customer doesn’t want to hear it and they will tune out within 30 seconds. Instead fake charisma, charm and interest and confidence and leave your laptop at home. I guarantee you will start to get miraculous results.

Bob Etherington

“Europe’s Best Sales Trainer” :  [Voted by ‘Sales Innovation Expo’ 2015 and 2016, Excel London.]

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