Are you uncomfortable with sales? Me, too! Especially because, in Myers-Briggs terms, I am a borderline Introvert/Extrovert. The “traditional” side of the sales paradigm has one ruling mantra (the Tolkienian “One Ring to Rule them All”): Always Be Closing.
Did you know that:
- There is no statistical correlation between extroversion and sales performance? According to a metanalysis of 3,806 sales people across 35 studies, there is no statistically valid correlation—0.07 to be exact. (Pink, location 1014)
- In one study, “ambiverts”—those who score a 4—the exact middle of a 7-point scale on introversion to extroversion—are found to have the highest per hour sales volumes: $208/hour vs. $125/hour for extroverts vs. $120/hour for introverts.
- That people spend 40% of their time at work in non-sales selling? (Pink, location 286)
- That this A-B-C of selling is long dead:
For those of you who have been gone through any formal sales training, some variation of the theme of “Always Be Closing” is in your toolkit. “Always” implies a set Universal Rule.
In the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin plays the overbearing, intimidating sales manager to perfection. Longer versions of this scene have him saying and behaving in ways that both intuition and recent social science research have shown to dissuade and de-motivate. Baldwin carefully takes off his watch, lays it on the desk of Ed Harris’ character, and says, “This watch is worth more than the car you drive.” Then he boasts, “I made $970,000 last year—how much did you make?” Greeted by Harris’ silence, Baldwin goes on: “I could make $15,000 in two hours in this driving rain.”
Contrast that clip with this 21st century picture of what sales is in fact now:
This is more of a fun, whimsical journey. The customer service agent has done a superb job of connecting with her customer. (It’s not as easy as you might think to be connected to oneself!) A few other things she does well are:
- Connecting first with the customer’s surprise at finding a human being on the line.
- Mirroring the clients’ concerns (“I don’t have time to talk to machines,” ”Companies just don’t appreciate the power of conversation”) and even the clients’ laughter.
- Disarming the customer by asking how she can help.
- Exhibiting the B and C of the 21st century ABC: Buoyance and Clarity.
This is a perfect example of the A of attunement of Pink’s new selling paradigm—one that he recasts as servant selling. Attunement requires that one be fluid and flexible, not rigid and rule-abiding (“always”). To increase your natural attunement, follow these three guidelines that require Yoga-like inner posturing:
- “Increase your power by reducing it.” If you assume you’re not the one in control, it’s easier for you to adjust to the other person’s frame of reference rather than making them come into yours.
- “Use your head as much as your heart.” While empathetic negotiators are more effective than indifferent ones, perspective takers—those who can really understand their clients’ perspective—find that “it’s more beneficial to get inside [the clients’] heads than to have them inside one’s own heart.” (Pink, location 915).
- “Mimic strategically.” We humans are natural mimickers. When we match mannerisms and speech patterns with our clients, we improve their experience with us.
Before you head into any meeting this week, you might consider exercising one of these guidelines to expand your attunement. In future weeks we’ll look at the B and C of our modern ABC’s of servant selling: Buoyancy and Clarity.
- Individual exercise: Where are you on the introversion/extroversion scale? Have some fun this week and see how “average” you are on the “ambivert” scale at www.danpink.com/assessment.
A few tips:
- If you’re an ambivert, keep doing what you’re doing!
- If you’re an extrovert, try asking more questions and listening rather than being so declarative and assuming you know what your client needs.
- If you’re an introvert, practice your “ask” ahead of time so it will feel comfortable and natural. (An ask is any step along the way to initiating a client relationship; it may be as small as, “Would you mind sharing your email so I can send you that resource?”).
- Team exercise (Dan Pink, location 1142): During a team meeting, consider doing this exercise.
Break up into groups of three or four. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Come up with as many similarities as possible among all team members. See which group has the most.
Go beneath the surface a bit; for example:
-who’s been to a Disney property in the last year?
-who’s a rugby fanatic, hates skiing, been to Palestine?
-who has wisdom teeth, can touch their tongues to their noses?
-has a younger brother?
Tally the numbers you come up with. Social scientists have found this kind of small talk is the glue to sociability.
Originally posted 2013-04-01 09:11:09.