Making friends and sales are pretty much the same thing. Why asks the person still interested enough to keep reading? Because, to make a friend, you essentially need to sell yourself. As a therapist I’m in sales because I constantly need to sell myself and the goal of growing to clients who come in to see me. If they don’t like me, they’re not returning. If they like me, but not what I offer, they’re not returning. If they like me and what I’m offering, but they find me too irresistibly gorgeous, they’re not returning. I’m yet to face this problem, but I do have a colleague who has lost a client because of this… yes, he’s much more attractive than I am, and I think this client ended up seeing me… that’s not a win for my self esteem. With each visit the need to sell myself decreases because the trust grows, but I always need to be careful to cultivate this trust. This is exactly what you do with friends. The more history you have together and the more someone knows you, the more available trust and willingness to forgive is there for you, but we need to do our best to cultivate this relationship or it will eventually end.
Recently, I had two people from PriMerica meet with my wife and I… I won’t share my opinion about this company, but it did make it glaringly obvious that their sales technique was terrible. My wife has met both of these guys before, but I only knew the one. After some pleasantries with my wife, the guy I didn’t know started in on his sales pitch… or as it felt, “Me proving why I think I’m smarter than you.” If you’ve ever tried making a friend, you’ll know this is a less than ideal technique to use. The meeting started with me standing while they sat; not a good sign for him because I was clearly guarded, but he was un-phased. As the meeting continued, he also seemed to miss that I soon crossed my arms and legs adding to the guardedness. I could let this slide, but I eventually physically moved away from him, and ended up as far away as possible, and he still didn’t seem to notice or care. The kicker is he was trying to sell me on something that he wasn’t even there to talk about, and spent almost an hour talking about it before getting to the reason he was actually there. My favourite part was 2/3 through the meeting he stopped and said “I know this is a lot of information, and probably hard for you to get.” Um, do you realize how insulting that is? So you don’t take any time to ask me about me, you ignore my body language and I even moved away from you, and then you essentially call me dumb? Is this like the guy who belittles the girl he likes so she won’t have any self esteem left to say no to his advances? This is the worst sales pitch I’ve experienced in a long time. The gold medal moment was after this meeting I sent an email to apologize for being guarded and out of respect I gave him some tips for he could’ve better connected with me. Instead of responding directly to me, his partner who did a follow up call, said from the email I sent I didn’t seem to really get what they were telling me. What? I was dumbfounded. He not only didn’t get my visual cues, he also didn’t get my words. How can you sell something when you don’t hear what the other person is trying to tell you?
The following is an abbreviated version of my email. You’ll notice that the tips I’m giving for sales are also great for making friends:
- Try to get the other person to feel safe with you: Share some basic info about yourself and ask for some from the other person to have a foundation for growing the connection. This sales guy never told me his credentials. He just started giving advice. Why should I care what you think when I don’t know you or why what your saying is worth listening to?
- Find out what the person is doing, and praise the good they’re doing: I interrupted him at one point to tell him what our financial situation was because he was telling me to do things that had no relevance to my situation. If he had asked a couple questions and praised me for what I did well and then said “Wow, you’re doing really well. You’re way ahead of other people I know. Did you want a tip for taking what you have to the next level?” Sure, now I’ll listen; you care about me and acknowledge I’m not an idiot; I’m not just a dollar sign or a target to throw advice at.
- Aim for a sense of equality: If the other person feels like you think they’re inferior, they’re not going to listen to you. In the first few minutes of throwing advice at me, he made me feel like he thought I was dumb. Andddd you just lost credibility. Saying this is a lot of information and I’m probably struggling to get it? – especially when my job is to listen and understand – Andddd you just lost credibility.
- Watch how the other person is responding & adjust yourself accordingly: For instance, “Did I say something that made you feel uncomfortable?” or “You seem uncomfortable. Am I reading that right?” I have crossed arms and moving away from you. I’m clearly not in a good space. Andddd you just lost credibility.
- Admit you’re not perfect, and why that’s okay: Arrogance is a huge turn off. No company (and no person) is perfect, so accept that and be open about it. He tried making PriMerica sound like the savior, the only company who cares about the people… no, it’s a business so people are important, but it’s still a business, and needs to make money. Now you seem like a liar or delusional. Andddd you lost credibility.
For making friends and sales the general rule is ‘Be quick to listen and slow to talk’. It’s not that complicated. This week, may you be able to make a new friend from offering love rather than advice.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people