Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Bob speak. His platform skills were on full display. I watched him mesmerize the audience with his energy and command of the stage. He inspired everyone to make a difference with his message of service and influence.
After his terrific presentation, I had the opportunity to talk with Bob about serving others and influence. In this video, we discuss:
It’s a honey festival. What would you expect? Honey! And honey is a commodity, right? It’s all the same. If you want honey for a recipe, or to add to some hot tea, you pick up some honey at the store.
My view of honey completely changed when I attended the Lithopolis Honey Festival last year. I left not only with new information about honey, but also with observations on how to make nearly any business stand out.
Arriving at the festival, I see the streets have been closed to allow for tents to fill the streets. People are everywhere, crowding the vendors. With so many people milling about, how do the honey manufacturers attract customers?
As my family walks down the street, we stop to visit each table. I begin to notice how wrong I am about honey. There are innumerable ways that each company is different.
Don’t sell a product. Entertain the audience. Crowds gather around to see “Bee Beard.” That’s where a man of perhaps questionable sanity has somehow managed to create a beard made of hundreds of bees, extending down his body and circling his head. From the number of people crowding around, it’s clear that this team is successful. It’s hard not to stop and take a look.
Use personality to develop loyalty. Some honey producers were present in the aisles with a friendly smile. They were not accosting or overly aggressive. These savvy customer service honey sellers met us in an engaging way, answering questions. Somehow in the first minute, we know the history of the business and the family. You don’t need an academic study to know that you are more likely to buy from someone you know.
Create unexpected flavor. Did you know that honey could come in cinnamon or raspberry? Resisting the chance to try various flavors is futile, so we stop and taste a few. Now we are comparing notes, sharing tastes. Engaging with a product in this way increases the sale opportunity.
This is a guest post by Steve Brown. Steve’s writing on various sites focuses on business related topics. Also he writes for the site The Gap Partnership. Apart from his writing, he loves to swim and hike whenever he gets time.
There’s a lot more to being a good leader than just being smart. People who have studied great leaders have identified certain traits that are common to these people, whether they are in business, politics, or any other field. Some of these same leadership traits can also be useful in a negotiation. Here are some of the ways in which wise leadership and wise negotiation converge.
A sense of fairness
A strong leader always treats people fairly, including employees, customers, and everyone else. If employees feel that they are being treated unfairly, it can create resentment and undermine the leadership. Ensuring that everyone is treated honestly and fairly engenders a greater sense of respect and loyalty; thus, this is an important trait of wise leaders.
This same sense of fairness is beneficial in negotiations as well. It can help you to establish trust during the process so that you can work with the other person to achieve an outcome that is fair to all parties.
Look for mutual benefit
Great leaders look for solutions that can satisfy everyone’s interests not just their own. By ensuring that the needs of customers, employees, shareholders, and others are considered, it creates an environment where everyone can be pleased with the decisions and the results. In a negotiation, looking for this mutual benefit can change the dynamic from an adversarial one to a situation where the parties are looking for shared solutions that benefit both of them. This is how you can achieve a win-win result that both parties are happy with.
Sometimes making a good decision means detaching the emotions so that you can weigh your options dispassionately and logically. Good leaders know how to do this so that they can make wise decisions. In negotiation, you also need to avoid becoming overly attached to a particular plan or outcome. Instead, keep an open mind and be willing to consider suggestions and alternatives. Bringing too many emotions into the process can cloud the issues and lead to poor decisions.
“Great leaders effectively communicate their higher purpose.” -Steve Brown
One of my beliefs is that everyone can benefit from understanding sales techniques. I simplify it to say, “We are all in sales.”
Whether you actually are a sales professional or not, you will find that successful people understand sales techniques and use them in everyday life.
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Steve Yastrow is the author of Ditch the Pitch, a new book that teaches sales people to tear up the sales script and really understand your customer. Steve founded Yastrow and Company and helps organizations improve results through sales and marketing techniques.
We recently had a chance to catch up and talk about persuasion.
“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears: by listening.” -Dean Rusk
Sales VP’s all over the world will read the title of your book Ditch the Pitch and wonder: “The pitch is how we sell others our ideas,” they will say, “It’s our main way of selling.” You say that the pitch doesn’t work. Why?
If a salesperson determines what he wants to say to a customer before he meets with that customer, the odds that this message will be the right message for this customer, at this time, are one in a million. We can’t possibly know in advance, even with customers we’ve known for a long time, what their current mood, situation, attitudes and reactions to information will be.
Additionally, customers behave differently once they detect a pitch. They get defensive. They resist sharing information. They start thinking about the next meeting they need to go to.
Instead of the pitch, you have a new approach in persuasive communications. What is it?
Improvisation. I teach people to gain the confidence to tear up their sales pitch and create fresh, spontaneous, persuasive conversations that are interesting, relevant and meaningful to their customers.
As you have taught this model to sales leaders, have you had any pushback or concerns? How do you help overcome the desire for a canned pitch since it is comfortable and familiar?
Often people tell me that they are not good improvisers and that they need a script to keep them on track. The fact is, however, that these people are already awesome improvisers. Human beings were born to improvise. We evolved to navigate an ever-changing, dynamic, unpredictable environment. Consider this: Have you ever had two 10-minute periods in your life that were exactly the same? Of course not. Without improvising, human beings wouldn’t have been able to use stone tools, track prey or cross Main Street.
And the most developed human improvisational skill is conversation. Notice the social conversations you have; they are all created on the spot, in the moment, based on what happens in that particular interaction. Ditch the Pitch helps people take their natural human talent for improvisation and bring it into their customer encounters.
“Not brute force but only persuasion and faith are the kinds of this world.” -Thomas Caryle
Your book outlines six habits to persuade others. Let’s just touch one as an example. Habit #6 is, “Don’t Rush the Story.” Would you highlight this one for us?
Everyone reading this interview is knowledgeable and expert about what they sell. Inevitably, this expertise helps us quickly diagnose customer situations and develop solutions. The problem is that we will always devise these solutions before our customers are ready to hear them, and if we tell them to our customers too soon we will overwhelm them. The idea is to be patient and bring information into your persuasive conversation at a pace your customer can accept.
In a previous post, I shared my opinions on selling to the top of an organization and why it isn’t always the best route to success.
There are obviously times when selling to the top is not only smart, but it’s required. Recently, I was asked about how to approach busy professionals with an idea, product, or service. If you are selling to senior executives, here are a few guidelines that may prove helpful.
As a sales leader, knowing your own company and your product is a requirement. Take it a step further. You need to know our company, too. When someone obviously hasn’t so much as looked at the company’s Web site, he has already lost credibility. Don’t flaunt your advanced preparation, but work in ways you think we will benefit from a relationship.
It applies on the phone, too. I can’t tell you how many people who finally do get me on the line are not prepared. If you’re ready for the gatekeeper, but not the person you’re targeting, here’s a hint: Don’t make the call. Do your homework.
Don’t launch into a stream of acronyms or nonsensical statements. No, I’m not meeting with you for an hour to learn to “drive efficiencies throughout the organization, maximizing ROI and improving profits.” Really. We do that every day, and we know the business and you don’t. So, be clear on what the benefit is to the organization. Don’t use complex language designed to impress.
“Every sale has 5 basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” –Zig Ziglar