Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Basic Salesmanship

*Knock Knock*

Mama: Come in…

Earline enters office.

Earline: Hi. (wringing hands) Can I talk to you?

Mama: (Puts down paperwork and gets up) Of course, dear. Come sit here on the sofa with me. You seem a bit upset. 

Earline: Um.. I… well…(They sit)

Mama: Now, I hope this isn’t about the kitchen. That is long in the past. But you haven’t been cooking any more, have you?

Earline: No. (Takes a deep breath) Here’s my question. Um… You meet with a lot of people and come out of meetings smiling. You must have good meetings.

Mama: I usually achieve the goal I set when I hold a meeting, yes. But that wasn’t a question.

Earline: I guess I am trying to ask about how to get people to do what you want them to. You seem pretty good at it.

Mama: Earline- Are you thinking of starting a business? You have enough going on right now, I believe.

Earline: No- this is personal.

Mama: Oh. I see. Well… First, remember that you can never make anyone do anything voluntarily and successfully that they already don’t have a glimmering of a mindset to do.

Earline: Huh?

Mama: You can force someone at times to accomplish something, but there will be no pride or internal sense of accomplishment to it. It will become a sticking point and close doors. 

Earline: OK. But is there a plan?

Mama: My friend, author Jennifer Crusie humorously spoke to this exact topic in her book Faking It.

Earline: Wait- I gotta take notes.

Mama: No- just memorize it. Never write this down. 

Earline: OK. More work, but this will be worth it. Go.

Mama: You need to approach people the right way. Think more about the other person than yourself. It is a sales pitch. Plan, plan, plan. Then, execute the plan in five steps:

First- Make the person smile.

Earline: How?

Mama: Smile at him. Most people smile back. Once someone smiles, they relax.

Earline. OK. 1. Smile.

Mama: Second- get him to say yes. To anything. Once someone says yes, it is likely he will repeat it. It establishes a pattern. Subsequently, talking with you equates to “yes”.

Earline: OK 1. Smile. 2. Yes.

Mama: Third- make him feel superior. It increases confidence and he will get careless. 

Earline: How?

Mama: Ask him a question he can easily answer. He’ll feel smarter. But not a guy-smart, girl-dumb question. You are creating a false sense of security with your sales pitch. This is serious business, but the mark, er, prospective customer doesn’t realize you, as a female, hold all the cards.

Earline: So 1. Smile. 2. Yes. 3. Superior.

Mama: On four you give him something. Perhaps a compliment, but sound sincere. A compliment goes a long way. Maybe something tangible, depending on the setting. You need to make him think he is way ahead in this meeting. And keep him smiling and nodding.

Earline: Sounds confusing but I will try. 1. Smile. 2. Yes, 3. Superior. 4. Give. 

Mama: Then you move in to close the deal. Ask for what you want but make him think you are doing him a favor by taking it. Be concrete but don’t push it. 

Earline: Like close and lock the door. But gently.

Mama: Somewhat. Go incrementally. Start with something small and with success increase the stakes over time. It builds trust and a sense of ease. People will let their guard down and your job can become easier. But never forget that you are working here. It isn’t a game. You are selling a product or item and you need to make it desirable and irresistible. Don’t lose sight of what you want. And practice, practice, practice.

Earline: OK 1. Smile. 2. Yes. 3. Superior. 4. Give. 5. Ask/take.

Mama: I think you have it. In theory. (Sighs)

Earline: (Looking up at Mama with a sniff) I appreciate this. 

Mama: (slight smile and nod); I know you do.

Earline: Since I don’t have a biological family I depend on you and Mr. Muscles for so much. 

Mama: I know you do. (Pats her hand)

Earline: You have helped me so much.

Mama: This is true, but stop practicing on me. I saw through 3 and 4 when you tried 1 and 2 with those big eyes. Now off with you and go pester your friends.
*Earline exits*

Mr. Muscles: (entering from another door) Should we call Zebrudus and warn him?

Mama: And spoil the fun? I think not. He can handle her. It works two ways. Let those games begin.

Mr. Muscles: *Nods* Yes. The girl is growing up.

Mama: Thank goodness. I had my doubts at times. Did you?

Mr. Muscles: Never. I have no doubts about you, either. (Nuzzling her neck).

Mama: You are right as usual. (Locking office door) I doubt I will get this paperwork finished any time soon. Can you help me?

Mr. Muscles: Of course- in about an hour or so.

*Paperwork flies off desk mysteriously as Mama giggles.*