One thing that is very important is to create a win win. I know, this is not the newest idea in the book, but it is important. Obviously, I will “win” by completing the sale. But the sometimes not so obvious win is going to be what the other persons involved will get out of the interaction.
There are several different ways to find out what would help the other person win.
- Think from the other perspective.
- Listen to the other person.
- Ask an outsider.
- Ask the person directly.
Think from the other person’s perspective.
Often, it is easy enough to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. For example, with Quill, I have to put myself in a business owners place. What could be important concerning office supplies? Dependability, Cost Effectiveness, Convenience, Variety, Delivery Costs, etc. If you aren’t fully aware of what is beneficial for who you are working with, then do some research. See what is important to that person or that industry, and then connect how you can help in some way.
Sometimes you have to be slightly more imaginative to find how it would be beneficial for the other person. For example, there were often times that I wanted some extra money from my Mom to buy something while I was in college. There wasn’t an obvious benefit to my Mom for me to buy a new pair of shoes. However, I had learned in class that the subconscious first impression is based on seven seconds comprised of face, hair, shoes. Thus, it was in my parents long term best interest that I am in a nice pair of shoes so I give off a better professional first impression.
Then again, there is not always an imaginative way to persuade something. In such cases, it is a good idea to look for something that would be of some benefit to that person, and make a trade.
2. Listen to the person you are talking to.
A majority of the time, people will tell you what is important to them. Often, people will ask a question that relates to their concerns. For example, with Quill, a customer will sometimes mention the free gifts and rewards money they get from Staples. From that, I know that I should focus on the gifts that we offer and our coupon structure. If someone tells me that they get free delivery, I know that our no-minimum delivery for our preferred customers is going to be their biggest benefit.
Sometimes, people will tell you directly what they want. For example, I had a customer the other day that, while being the president of the company, didn’t deal directly with the supplies themselves. I showed him that he would save money, and that he would be in our discount program. But what he was really interested in was our recruiting system for Quill. I told him that it was a secret, but he pushed for the answer. In the end, I offered to tell him the whole story if he bought 5 toner. This was a fair trade to him, and we ended up with a win win.
3. Ask an outsider.
We all know that it is easy to see the solution for a friend than for ourselves. Get some distance by asking someone that is not related to the issue at hand. Give them all the details, and see what their advice is – see what they would do.
I always recommend going to someone that is in a place you want to be with regard to whatever issue. For example, if you are having a difficult time balancing your finances, go to someone that is monetarily stable. Don’t ask the friend you are constantly loaning money to! If you are having issues dealing with a boss or work situation, talk to someone that you know has a good work environment. If you want to sell something to someone, ask someone who’s already had experience and success selling that or a similar item.
4. Ask the person directly.
Personally, I am a fan of always coming to the table with a solution in mind. But, I’m not always able to find the best solution for the other person. For example, say you would like to ride to work with someone. Having sold my car when I moved from Florida to New York City, when I transferred to our NJ office, I found that I was no longer able to just utilize public transportation. There’s another girl in my office that lives a few blocks away. I wanted to ride with her, but I didn’t want her to feel she was taken advantage off. So I told her that I wanted to give her something in return, and asked what would be fair. In that way, we were able to come to an agreement that works for both of us.
Whatever it is you are looking to achieve or get, it is important to find out what would be the benefit for the person you are working with. As I mentioned, I always like to have a solution in hand when I work with someone, and usually I will present it first. If it is not to the liking of the person I am dealing with, I try to find out what and see what we can work out together. Still, the key is to reach the Win Win state, so that everyone leaves happy.