Kids are pretty amazing and if you pay attention, you can learn a lot about business and sales. Some of you may be saying, “But, Bernadette, I’m not in sales, I’m a (insert your profession here). Newsflash we are all in sales. It doesn’t matter if you are a lawyer, a plumber, a website designer or a network marketing professional, we are all in sales. You can’t lawyer, plumb, design do any business without selling first. It got me thinking about a blog post that did when my son was 7. I figured I would share the basics of it here. It still puts a smile on my face. If you are like me, you learn from your kids every day!
A few years back, not unlike today, I was a single stay at home, work my business from home mom. Typically, I was working on the computer and Sebastian was either near me coloring or playing or somewhere close by.
One day, Sebastian came over to me and said, Mama, I’m sorry…I put my crayons in the candle in the kitchen and accidently put the flame out. Well… actually, the paper from the crayons caught on fire and I got scared, put a can on the top, then the flame went out. I jumped up to go make sure the kitchen wasn’t on fire. And, sure enough, there were 5 crayons (minus their paper) stuck into the candle.
I asked, “Sebastian, what were you trying to do?” He responded, “I was trying to see if I could change the color of the candle Mama, and then the paper caught fire and, and, AND…. I’m sorry Mama, are you mad at me?.” “Well, I definitely don’t want you to do that again, crayons don’t belong in candles, next time get me so that maybe I can help you figure out what you are trying to do, and then you can try it and be safe. But, I am very happy that you were honest with me.” “Well, you always know if Alexa lies, I don’t know how, but you do, so, so, I figured I should just tell you the truth.”, was his response. My wise little 7 year old has watched his sister back herself into a corner enough times to know it’s best to just tell the truth, Mama will know. So LESSON #1, in life, in sales, in all we do people can tell when you are lying or exaggerating the truth, so it’s always best to just BE HONEST about your product or service.
Sebastian was hanging out upstairs with me one day before school. I had just put on a top and was walking to the mirror when he piped up, “Mama, that top looks really good, you should wear that one.” “Thanks Buddy, I really appreciate that.” It hit me that he says stuff like that a lot. I like those earrings Mama, thank you Mama, you are the best Mama in the whole world. He’s always gives his honest opinion. I know because he tells me when he doesn’t like something as well, but, he always finds something nice to say. Sometimes, he just comes up to me and hugs me and says, “I love you Mama.” My wise little 7 year old has mastered the art of CHARM. Lesson #2 – Master the art of CHARM. Be honest, but, always find something nice to say to your prospects, people you are networking with. If you are talking on the phone, compliment the person on how motivated they sound, if you are in front of them find something that you can honestly compliment them on. Annie, one of my mentors is a master at this. It doesn’t matter who she is talking to, she will compliment the person on a necklace or their hairdo or something. She finds something she honestly likes, so that person believes her. Trust me, mastering the art of charm works for everyone!
The other day Sebastian came up to me, “Mama, what are you doing today?” “I’m not sure Sebastian, I have some work to do on the computer.” He said, “Oma said that we need milk, are you going to get some?” “Maybe a little later on”, I reply. “Do you think you might go to Walmart?”, he continues. “Probably”, I respond, smiling a little, because I know what the next question is. ‘OK…Mama, can I go with you when you go?” “Sure buddy, you can go with me.”, just as I suspected.
5 minutes later…. “Mama, come here, hurry, come here…hurry, you have to look at this. I want to show you something” he says more excitedly than before. “Mama, come here, come on”. So, I walk over to the computer he is playing on to see a huge Lego Bumblebee Transformer on the screen. He pushes a button and the image starts to swivel pointing out all the great things about the transformer and why we should buy it. When he’s done with the demonstration, he goes in for the kill, “Mama, when we go to Walmart today, can I get this Bumblebee Transformer?” I say, “Maybe…” “THANK YOU MAMA, you are the best MAMA in the whole world, MAMA!” He truly has mastered the art of charm. 20 minutes later, “Mama, are we going to Walmart yet?” 20 minutes later, “Mama, can I help you with anything so that we can go to Walmart quicker?”
LESSON #3 encompasses the basis of all sales. Always do you’re A,B,C’s, my wise little guy knew that in order for him to get what he wants, he needs to know where I’m AT….am I stuck on the computer all day, or will I be going out. Once he knows where I’m AT, he figures out where I want to BE…he learned from Oma that I need to get milk. He knows that I need to make a CHANGE and am going to have to stop working to go to the store, so it’s just about timing and when I will DECIDE to go out. Then he goes into EVERYTHING ELSE. Once he’s done his presentation, The next key lesson – HE ALWAYS ASKS FOR THE SALE, “Mama, can I get the toy”, AND HE assumes the close….AND, REGARDLESS OF THE OUTCOME, if the answer is yes, no or maybe, “HE ALWAYS FOLLOWS UP until he gets that toy or another toy and he never, I REPEAT NEVER gets discouraged by the no’s, he quickly moves on until he gets the yes!”
I look at it this way, if I were to be in a room of say 100 people and I said to Sebastian, one of these people has your bumblebee toy, but, in order to get it, you have to ask them for it. Sebastian wouldn’t hesitate, he would quickly be tugging on skirts and pantlegs asking, “Do you have my bumblebee toy?” He wouldn’t get discouraged if someone said, “No”. He would just keep asking until he got a yes. He wouldn’t stop at someone who looked promising and say, “Are you sure you don’t have it, are you sure you didn’t put it under your table, please come on.” He would simply keep pressing on and within about 5 minutes, he would be sitting on the floor with his bumblebee toy playing happily.
That’s the same kind of attitude you have to have with sales for your business. You can’t focus on the no’s. And, you don’t want to alienate and annoy people by asking, “Are you sure you don’t want to buy my product/service, it’s the best, my prices are lowest, yada, yada, yada!”. You would simply smile and say, “Thanks for your time do you mind if I follow up in a few weeks?” Just be sure to follow up because the fortune in sales is always in the followup.
A quick recap…
- Always be honest – people can tell when you aren’t.
- Master the art of charm – it makes people feel good about themselves and appreciate you. ?They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.”—Carl W. Buehner
- Always do you’re A,B,C’s
- Don’t get discouraged by the no’s
- Follow up, follow up, follow up
Hopefully Sebastian’s Lessons will help you in the way they have helped me.
Bernadette Trafton, Chief Connector/Business Advisor