This Month’s Selling Principle:
Four Human Relations Basics
How much would your professional life improve if the majority of your new customers were trusting and easy to work with? What would you be able to achieve if you could significantly increase the effectiveness of each and every one of the techniques you currently use? And what would you think if I were to tell you that it’s “easy” to accomplish all of this?
Well, okay…maybe it’s not all that easy but it’s certainly simple. Understanding and putting to use these four simple human relations basics will help us get it done. Of course, we’re talking about human behavior, and in human behavior there are no absolutes. But I have found that no matter what skill level we currently possess, by simply applying these four staples of human relations, we can dramatically improve our sales results.
The first and foremost of these principles, as I have said before and will undoubtedly say time and time again, is that the most basic of all human needs are to be valued and understood. That’s exactly what our little girl wants when she asks us to, “Watch this, watch me, Daddy!” It’s what our husband wants when he just has to tell us about how he handled his hard-assed boss today. And it’s exactly what each and every one of our customers want when they walk into our dealership door. You’ve heard it before: “Our customers don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care”. By becoming active listeners, by being conscious and present for our clients, and by seeking first to understand them and then to be understood ourselves, we will effectively pace our client’s need to be valued and understood. When we allow this principle to color the rest of our interactions and all of our dealings with our customers, we will be much more effective.
The second human relations basic is that facts are unimportant, the truth is irrelevant, and perception is everything. In face to face communication, it is what they hear; it is what they perceive that is important — not what we say. To help illustrate this point, I will relate to you this true story. Now, please try and project your consciousness into this story, and you will experience a paradigm shift or a change of perspective and perception.
It was a quiet Sunday morning in New York. I was riding in the subway alone. It was peaceful and serene. The subway car was, maybe, one-third full — very quite, very calm. Now, I want you to be there; empathize and experience this.
Next, a man walked in with a large group of his children and he sat down right beside me. Although he was silent and seemingly deep in thought, his kids were very loud and rambunctious, destroying the entire mood. They were screaming and throwing things, and the father just sat there and did nothing. The kids were running up and down and one child even grabbed another passenger’s paper, and still the father just sat there. How aggravating! How irritating, right?!
Finally, I turned to the man and said, “Excuse me, sir, but your kids are bothering some of the passengers. Do you think you could control them a little more?”
He slowly raised his head just realizing the situation and quietly said, “You know, I suppose I should. You see, we just left the hospital where their mother died not one hour ago. I don¹t know what to think or what I’m going to do, and obviously they don¹t know how to handle it either.”
Now, after hearing him say that, my whole attitude changed. Did yours?
I told you this story in first person simply for effect. It actually happened to author Stephen Covey. The message is still loud and clear, though. It is perceptions that create our feelings and behaviors, not circumstances. Facts are unimportant, the truth is irrelevant, and perception is everything in human relations.
Which leads us to the third human relation basic: 55/38/7.
In 1967, a professor from UCLA named Albert Merabian did a study about face-to-face human communication. What he discovered has become a behavioral science staple. What he discovered was that we convey some of our message with body language, some of it through tone, tempo and volume, and some of it through the actual content. Let me clarify this. How our message is perceived in face-to-face communication: 55% of what our customers react to or make judgments on are things that they can see (our body language, our gestures, facial expressions, breathing patterns, the dilation of our pupils, etc.), 38% of what our customers react to or make judgments on are things that they can hear (tone, tempo, volume, confidence in our voice, etc.), and 7% of what our customers react to or make judgments on are from content or the actual words we use. A full 93% of what influences how our customer feels about what we are saying has nothing to do with the word tracks we strive to master.
Let’s see if I can drive this one home to you.
A husband comes home from work. His wife is in the kitchen, and she is beating the daylights out of the pots and pans. She is making a horrible racket and huffing and puffing. He walks into the kitchen and he says, “Honey, what¹s wrong.” She turns to him and says, “Nothing.”
He pauses and says, “Honey, look, I know there¹s something bothering you. Come on, share it with me.” She turns and says, “Hey, I said nothing’s wrong, didn¹t I?”
Now, what is the 7%, the content or the words she’s saying, indicating? Clearly that nothing is wrong. But what is the other 93%, her actions and her tone, indicating? That it’s going to be a long night, right?
It’s that other 93% that I want us to focus on. Remember, face to face communication is 55% body language, 38% tone, tempo, volume, and 7% words.
Finally, the last human relation basic that I would like us to remember is that it is our responsibility to be understood, not the customers responsibility to understand us. It’s not enough to say or do the right things. We need to also be keenly aware of what our client hears and what they aren’t hearing, what they are feeling, and what they perceive of us. By simply asking clarifying questions about their thoughts and feelings throughout the entire transaction, we’ll not only be giving ourselves a clear picture of these things but we’ll also let our clients know we actually care about them too.
Now, I admit that these principles may not be all that easy to implement at first, but they’re simple to remember, right? And with practice, they can become second nature to us too. When we understand and put to use these four human relations basics, we will become much more effective husbands, wives, parents, friends, brothers, sisters, children, and oh yeah, sales professionals.
So, until next time, be well, and do good work!
Michael D. Hargrove
“Most people don’t have time actually to figure you out. So their initial perception of you is very important. If you make a bad impression, you have to get over the bad impression. If it’s good, you can go on to step two.”
Harold Ellis, CEO, Grubb & Ellis Company
Objection of the Month: “We don’t need a salesperson.”
These are just a few of the most common strategies shared at the workshops we’ve conducted all across North America and attended by thousands of the top sales people in our field. Please keep in mind that nothing works all the time, and no one thing will work for everybody. Each of these strategies, of course, need to be tailored to the individual user, to the specific customer, and the particular situation. Also, this is by no means the definitive work on overcoming this particular objection and it’s not intended to be.
a. “Relax Ma’am, I assure you I’m so salesman. Actually, my sales manager reminds me of that fact just about every day!” (Then after they stop laughing, we introduce our self or use one of the other techniques.)
b. “You know Sir, it sounds like you’ve had a bad experience at another dealership before. May I please make a suggestion? Let’s simply do this, if you agree not to treat me like the last pushy salesrep you had to deal with, I’ll agree not to treat you like the last rude customer I had to deal with. Does that sound fair enough?”
c. “Ma’am, I know YOU have an intimate knowledge of what you want and need and I have an intimate knowledge of what this particular dealership can offer you. We can save each other a lot of time and grief by comparing notes and working together. Shall we try?”
d. “Sir, what do you do for a living? What are you expected to do in your job?” (After our customer responds we say), “In my job, I’m expected to treat each customer with respect and assist them in any way I can to make their shopping experience as pleasant and efficient as possible. Will you please allow me to do my job?”
e. “That’s fine, Ma’am, here’s my card. I’ll just lay back here a few feet from you, that way if you need me to open up a car for you, or if you have a question, I’ll be close enough to help out.” (Then we wait until they invite back over to them with a question or to open up a car.)
f. “Ma’am, did I do something to offend you or am I just catching you on a bad day?” (We need to look stern, frown, and move closer to them when we ask the first part before the word “or” and then step back, relax, smile and shake our head slowly “yes” when we ask the second part. Use this one only if the customer is being rude to us. When she says she’s having a bad day, she’s opened herself up to us.)
g. “It seems to me you’ve had a bad experience with sales people before. What happened?” (Now we let our customer vent and simply listen to them. Once they’ve stopped we say), “You know what I don’t like about sales people?”, (and we add one thing we don’t like about sales people that they didn’t mention. Then we say), “You know, not all sales people are the same. Some are even pleasant and helpful. Will you please give me the chance to prove that to you?”
h. “It’s obvious to me that you’ve been mistreated by a salesperson before. What happened?” (We let our customer vent and simply listen to them. Once they’ve stopped we say), “You know, that’s so unfair…”, (and then we pause and hold our thumb and pointer finger an inch apart. Then we say), “It’s that tiny little 97% of pushy car sales people that ruin it for the rest of us!”
Next month’s objection will be: “This is the first place we’ve shopped.” We need YOUR input! Please forward your ideas on this one, or your suggestions on which objection to cover next, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
Go for It!
by: Andi Puntoriero
While watching the Olympics the other night, I came across an incredible sight. It was not a gold medal, or a world record broken, but a show of sheer determination and guts.
The event was swimming and started with only three men on the blocks. For one reason or another, two of them false started, so they were disqualified. That left only one to compete. That would have been difficult enough, not having anyone to race against, even though the time on the clock is what’s important.
I watched the man dive off the blocks and knew right away that something was wrong. Now I’m not an expert swimmer but I do know a good dive from a poor one, and this was not exactly medal quality. When he resurfaced, it was evident that the man was not out for gold — his arms were flailing in an attempt at freestyle. The crowd started to titter. Clearly this man was not a medal contender.
I listened to the crowd begin to laugh at this poor man that was clearly having a hard time. Finally he made his turn to start back. It was pitiful. He made a few desperate strokes and you could tell he was exhausted.
But in those few awkward strokes, the crowd had changed.
No longer were they laughing, but beginning to cheer. Some even began to stand and yell things like, “Come on, you can do it!” and, “Go for it!” He did.
A clear minute past the average swimmer, this young man finally finished his race. The crowd went wild. You would have thought that he had won the gold, and he should have. Even though he recorded one of the slowest times in Olympic history, this man gave more heart than any of the other competitors.
Just a short year ago, he had never even swam, let alone raced. His country had been asked to Sydney as a courtesy.
In a competition where athletes remove their silver medals feeling they have somehow been cheated out of gold, or when they act so arrogantly in front of their rivals, it is nice to watch an underdog.
A man that gave his all — knowing that he had no chance, but competed because of the spirit of the games.
Life is Like a Cafeteria
by: Brian Cavanaugh, More Sower’s Seeds
A friend’s grandfather came to America from Eastern Europe. After being processed at Ellis Island, he went into a cafeteria in lower Manhattan to get something to eat. He sat down at an empty table and waited for someone to take his order. Of course nobody did. Finally, a woman with a tray full of food sat down opposite him and informed him how a cafeteria worked.
“Start out at that end,” she said. “Just go along the line and pick out what you want. At the other end they’ll tell you how much you have to pay.”
“I soon learned that’s how everything works in America,” the grandfather told a friend. “Life’s a cafeteria here. You can get anything you want as long as you are willing to pay the price. You can even get success, but you’ll never get it if you wait for someone to bring it to you. You have to get up and get it yourself.”
“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
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“Excellent! Very relevant to the modern car buying market.”
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Location: Embassy Suites Hotel – Seattle North
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Lynnwood, WA 98036
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