How to close a deal with your client’s inner “natural child.”
“When do I deliver the data?”
There’s a moment in integration proposals where there’s something of a personality shift – the salesperson (which, in a lot of cases, is also the owner/accountant/manager/jack-of-all-trades in the CEDIA world) has to morph from a “nurturing parent” to an “adult.”
At the same time, said salesperson must try and tap into the client’s “natural child.”
Should the client’s “rebellious child” or the integrator’s “critical parent” show up, then there might be a big problem.
Don’t worry – an explanation is forthcoming.
Rochelle Carrington, a sales expert from Sandler Training
, starts her presentation with a photo of a roll of toilet paper. The end from which to pull the TP is draped over the top, not hanging beneath. Is this right? Wrong? Who cares? Who doesn’t?
Apparently, a lot of people DO care, and those folks often insist that the slide represents the one and only way to load a roll.
“How do you think you learned that?” Carrington asks the crowd.
The answer: That’s the way people were taught.
It’s part of something Carrington’s referring to as “scripting.” From birth until roughly six- or seven-years old, one’s parents load up their offspring with rules; things to do, things not to do. Those rules are pulled along with us into adulthood, usually subconsciously. When someone’s involved in a transaction, some of that scripting can be helpful, and some of can be downright counterproductive. The key is understanding and identifying those tendencies – not just within a client, but within oneself.
“People buy things emotionally. They make decisions intellectually,” notes Carrington. That means that in a perfect transaction, the customer will make an emotional decision that ends in “yes” – and use their intellectual skills to justify that decision.
The “scripting” that we all come to the table with informs just how much emotion versus intellect we’ll naturally bring to any transaction, whether we’re selling or buying. That scripting yields three over-arching states: Child, Adult, and Parent. The Nurturing Parent
As Carrington wrote in her preview for this year’s Business Xchange: Simply put, we follow “Adult” behavior when we are solving problems in a logical, rational and analytical manner.
The “Child” is the six-year old decision maker. It is that ever-young voice that influences your prospect’s buying behaviors by demanding, “I want this” or “I don’t want to do that.”
In addition to the grownups, there are many kinds of “kids” lurking around in all of us (and while one type of adult or kid is dominant in our daily lives, we can jump from persona to persona with the right triggers). Some children are “adaptive” (always aiming to please), some are manipulative (“Little Professors”), and some are rebellious (no explanation needed). The one a seller wants to meet is the “natural child” – that’s the kid who walks into a toy store and WANTS THAT LEGO SET, MONEY IS NO OBJECT (mainly ‘cause Mom’s paying), WOO-HOO!
However, as Carrington notes:
In the role of business development or customer service, it helps to stay in the “Nurturing Parent” role as much as possible.
Too often, salespeople are in their “Critical Parent” role, which often comes across as “telling” a prospect what to do rather than asking leading questions and allowing them to figure it out. It is the “Nurturing Parent” that encourages buyers to open up, which builds trust quickly.
A critical parent and a natural child don’t make for a good seller/client match. In fact, the overly logical “adult” is a sales killer, too: A massive data dump can drain all the excitement from the natural child.
And the best way to maintain that role of the nurturer?
Keep asking questions. What’s Up, Doc?
A neat trick for staying in that “nurturing” role is to imagine oneself in a doctor’s office. Which caregiver would you prefer: the one who simply assumes you threw out your back doing yoga AGAIN or the one that asks you what happened – and where it hurts, how much it hurts, and so on?
Carrington’s advice for framing questions and setting a discovery agenda are all about questions that lead to guidance, not the inverse. And she’s well aware that some of us are carrying “scripts” in our head from our own, real-life critical parents. When that interior monologue drowns out the nurturing voice in a seller’s own noodle (“You’re terrible at this! Why did you do that? Why can’t you be like your big sister/successful integrator up the road/Bill Gates?”) you’re dooming yourself at the outset.
A trick that Carrington offers to chase away some of your internal negativity? Create a “complaint tally” – every time you gripe about anything, make a little note of it. (“I did this,” says Carrington, “and the first week was terrifying.”) You’ll find you’re grumbling less about the small stuff when you’re aware that being put out is your default mode.
As any good Zen Buddhist will tell you, perfection is ever elusive. But the closer a salesperson gets to transactional nirvana, the more they’ll get to that “nurturing” mindset -- a state Carrington calls being “vulnerably assertive.”