This article illuminates the basic principles of a selling technique that is based upon behavioral science. Want to reach the top much sooner? Want to serve customers better? Is your mind open? Good! The code to human behavior has been cracked. Get ready for some revolutionary selling ideas!
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Part 1: Want to be the greatest home furnishings salesperson in the world?
It has been said, by those who know, that about 15% of your sales success is the result of your professional skills. However, it is your proficiency in establishing mutually productive relationships with prospects that produces 85% of your selling success.
The great master salespersons of this world are remarkably careful in their day-to-day human relationships. As a matter of fact, one critical difference between you and any great salesperson may well be this single factor: Great sellers take precautions in their human relationships that other people fail to bother with.
This article will illuminate the basic principles of a technique that is based upon behavioral science. (Don’t worry, I will not offer you a lot of theories or formulas to study.) Salespersons with average IQ’s can quickly master these methods. I have taught this technique of mastering relationships to graduate classes at several universities. The U.S. Air force included this method in a training manual for officers. Joe Girard, noted in the Guinness Book of Records as “The Greatest Salesperson in the World” said that if he learned this method when he started out, “I would have reached the top much sooner than I did.” People completely new to the system pick it up in an hour or so, and if they have good moxie, they can begin to put it to immediate use.
Want to reach the top much sooner? Want to serve customers better? Is your mind open? Good! The code to human behavior has been cracked. Get ready for some revolutionary ideas!
Theoretical physicists such as Einstein and Heisenberg often used thought games to help people visualize their ideas. Here is a thought game I developed to help people understand the value of “reading” other people, especially difficult individuals:
A Thought Game Challenge
Imagine this situation: You are driving down the highway on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. In the rearview mirror you suddenly notice a car moving up fast on the road behind you.
Although you are going just over the speed limit, this car goes quickly by you on the right lane. As the car goes by, you observe a red sign above the license plate with numerals “82” on it. You murmur to yourself “Oh-oh... a RED 82!” and immediately you ease up on the throttle and become very cautious. Without warning or a signal, the car suddenly cuts in front of you and zooms on at a very high speed. Relaxed again, you settle back and continue to enjoy your ride.
This imaginary story is based upon an impractical (but intriguing) theory of mine: If drivers were required to post their IQ scores on their cars, it would eliminate many accidents. Obviously, if you spotted an “82” IQ sign on a car, you would anticipate the possibility of the driver making a less than intelligent move.
In addition, if the driver in question did do something dangerous and stupid, you’d be much more likely to take it philosophically. After all, what can you expect from an 82 IQ? But–you might ask–what about the immature driver, the one with a high IQ who is still emotionally a child? We’d simply give mature people GREEN signs, and those, of emotional incompetence RED signs! So, if you should see a car, with a RED “141”; on it, you’d exercise keen caution.
Of course, as I said, the idea is not practical, and neither is the one that follows: Imagine if immature, hostile and aggressive customers were required to wear RED armbands! Be simple to spot them then, wouldn’t it?
Illustration #1 Below
The fact is: immature people do give off unmistakable signals that clearly reveal their natures and their secret inner needs!
It is true that no two people are alike. It is equally true, however, that people tend to act in patterns. We acknowledge this when we say something like: “Jane is a sweet, considerate person,” or “Jim just isn’t himself today!” Important developments in Behavioral Science have given us the keys to “read” the signals of other people and actually predict, in a general way, their behavior.
Let’s learn the system now, and you can put it to the acid test tomorrow. I promise you, you will never look at people in quite the same way again!
How to Read People
Before you can read people, it is necessary to “rate” them. The rating system we shall use has two scales: hostility/compassion and assertiveness/timidness. You might ask: “How can we measure such intangibles? How compassionate is compassionate? And how hostile is hostile?”
Behavioral Scientists tell us that there are no absolutes in human behavior... that there is really no ultimate degree of hostility or compassion. However, like musical scales, which theoretically can go on forever in each direction (higher or lower), hostility and compassion can be measured in relative terms.
To illustrate this, let’s imagine a completely indifferent individual, no hostility and no compassion. (Impossible for a normal person, but imagine it anyway.) Let’s place this individual at zero, in the theoretical center of the hostility/compassion scale.
Now imagine the scale going off in either direction, one side toward hostility, and the other toward compassion (illustration 2).
Illustration #2 Below
You recall that we said that there are no absolutes in human behavior, or final “stopping places” at either end of the scale. But for the sake of clarity, let’s establish arbitrary designations of 1 to 10 on each side of the scale. (We agree, even when we do this, that no human being could reach the absolute degree of “10” on either side of the scale.) Now, think of a very difficult person you have dealt with. It could be a customer, or possibly a boss. Anyone who had the ability or power to make your life difficult. Then, decide which side of the scale this individual should be rated. This should not be difficult. To help you determine upon which side your difficult person belongs, imagine which descriptive words would be most appropriate to describe him.
Words that best describe a compassionate nature are warmth, trust, sensitivity sincerity, kindness, openness, sympathy, helpfulness, consideration, tact, graciousness, and benevolence. Would these apply? More likely, this difficult personality would be placed on the hostile side of the scale. In this case, he would be more appropriately described by words like scornful, indifferent, arrogant, insensitive, brutal, cold, aloof, and hostile. The actual degree of hostility or warmth with which you “credit” this person is less significant than the side of the scale upon which you place him. This should not be difficult for you to decide.
For purposes of illustration, let’s suppose your choice is a difficult customer we will name Harry Haight. Let’s place Harry on the hostile side of the scale, ranging almost to eight (illustration 3). Now let’s go on to the second part of our system and rate this difficult customer on Assertiveness/Timidness. How would you score this individual’s courage, drive and ambition? As we did with Hostility/Compassion, we need to establish an imaginary scale with a neutral point in the middle. In this neutral point we place a completely passive individual; he neither retreats timidly nor advances aggressively in his life situations.
Illustration #3 Below
Now, let’s place extremely aggressive behavior at the top of the scale, and very timid behavior at the bottom (illustration 4). For the sake of clarity, we will again establish our arbitrary designations of 1-10 at each end of the scale. Using the same approach as before, where would you rate this individual on this scale?
Illustration #4 Below
Descriptive words for the aggressive top part of the scale would be: leadership, confidence, authoritative manner, initiative, a drive to control, ambition, and so on. Aggressive people like to get in the mainstream of life and affect things. They desire to have impact on the world, to put their stamp on things, to establish evidence that “they’ve been here.” On the opposite pole of our scale is timidness. Timidness is more than simple passiveness; it can be a fearful retreat from life. A timid person has the tendency to avoid the limelight and responsibility, to be compliant (or at least pretend to be compliant!), and to be self-defeating. Timid people believe safety and security are more important than the risk of proving their own value or worth. There is a propensity to strive to maintain the status quo of situations. Passive people believe that facing a known evil is better than facing the unknown, because they fear it might be even worse.
Harry Haight is not passive or timid. He is driving and ambitious. Using Harry again as an example, we would place him on an eight or so on the aggressive side of the scale. Now we have two fixes on Harry. He is extremely hostile and extremely aggressive. We are now ready to put Harry “together.” When we combine the two characteristics of Hostility and Aggressiveness, here is what we come up with as a profile, or “model” of Harry Haight (Illustration 5).
Illustration #5 Below
You have now rated your difficult person on each scale: Hostility/ Compassion and Assertiveness/ Timidness. You are ready for the next step, putting him together. You recall that we rated Harry as an “8” Hostile and as an “8” Aggressive. If we extend lines from each scale until they meet (as in the diagram) we get an idea how extreme a Hostile/ Aggressive person can be! When you apply this concept to customers, you will discover that they fall into one of four distinct categories. For clarity we have chosen all male gender characters. The same principles apply to female personalities.
If you rate a customer as both aggressive and hostile, he is a Hostile/Aggressive type, similar to Harry Haight (Illustration 6). If your customer is hostile, but on the withdrawn side, you have a Hostile/Timid individual, a man we call Fred Fridgide. If your customer is compassionate and sensitive, yet at the same time is passive and timid, you have a Gary Goodman person, or a Warm/Timid type. The final possibility is that you have a relatively mature prospect, who is driving and assertive but also manifests a healthy concern about others and respects their feelings. In this case he is a Compassionate/Assertive person, and we’ll call him Mike Mature.
These are the four types of personalities in our system. These are extreme “models,” and such extreme types rarely exist in real life. If a psychologist wrote a personality profile on your customer, it would probably be complex and difficult to understand. And, after you read it, it would be hard for you to apply the knowledge you gained. There would simply be too much data to be of much value. For this reason we are using the conceptualized model approach in dealing with your prospective customers.
Illustration #6 Below
The essentials of an individual’s behavior can be boiled down and conceptualized in a character like Harry Haight. Even though these examples are imaginary models of extremes in behavior types, they are very valuable as reference points from which to read other people.
Keep in mind also that within each of the four areas there exists an infinite number of variations. The Hostile/Aggressive customer you encounter may be very hostile, but only moderately aggressive. Or the other way around, he could be only moderately hostile yet extremely aggressive. Any of the personalities shown in illustration 7 may be accurately designated as H/A types, or Hostile/Aggressive. Yet, as you can see, each is entirely unique in personality and temperament.
Illustration #7 Below
The Limitations of "Typecasting"
Human beings can never be comfortably pigeon-holed. Each person will show flashes of uncharacteristic behavior at times. People also vary in their roles. Harry Haight may be the most hostile and aggressive of customers, and yet may be a docile Gary Goodman around his family. He may, if he is a boss, be utterly hostile with men employees and wishy-washy with women employees.
Illustration #8 Below
People can put up a front. This is called a “mask tactic,” and is used to disguise the real attitudes of the person using it. We will learn how to detect these deceptive behaviors. Under extreme stress, people can act differently. This is called a “frustration behavior.” Push a Gary Goodman too far, and even he can act like Harry Haight, for a short period.
Time To Pause... What Type Are You?
If you are like most people, you grasped the idea about personality types quickly. You may surprise yourself as you are quickly able to determine the general personality type of your customers, your spouse, and your friends.
It is also important to know what type of personality you possess. This is because your customers’ behavior is greatly affected by your own. For example, Harry Haight acts differently with another aggressive person than he does with a timid type of person. So the attitude that you project will cause him to act differently. How do you develop into a Compassionate/ Assertive type of person? How do you become more assertive and yet retain your warmth and compassion for others? We know that your behavior and attitudes do not just “happen:” Your own personality type is based upon your beliefs about yourself and other people. The more positive these beliefs are, the better off you are.
How would you rate yourself, using the same methods you rated Harry Haight? We know we cannot change Harry Haight, so a key objective of this article is to help you begin to develop the poise and assertiveness you need to deal with Harry Haight, Fred Fridgide, Gary Goodman and yes, even Mike Mature. The positive qualities you need stem from the desire to achieve, which is predicated upon the belief that you can achieve. Harry Haight believes he can achieve, and he is driven to prove it. To deal successfully with him, you must acquire a strong self-image, and a positive faith in yourself. This is the prerequisite to all positive motivation.
Now That You Know, What Do You Do?
By embracing the principle that all good selling is serving, how is it possible to develop mutually beneficial relationships with well-intended, but immature and difficult customers? How do you defuse and handle a Harry Haight? Is it possible to penetrate the barriers of a Fred Fridgide? What measures are necessary to induce a Gary Goodman to sign on the dotted line? And, how does one work with maximum productivity with a Mike Mature? These questions are all answered in depth in the next installment of the Lost Secrets of Scientific Selling. In Part II you will learn the methods that will help you establish productive relationships with prospects of every type, and these skills will produce 85% of your progress toward becoming the greatest home furnishings sales person in the world.
Larry Mullins is a contributing editor for Furniture World and has 30+ years of experience on the front lines of furniture marketing. Larry’s mainstream executive experience, his creative work with promotion specialists, and mastery of advertising principles have established him as one of the foremost experts in furniture marketing. His affordable High-Impact programs produce legendary results for everything from cash raising events to profitable exit strategies. His newest books, THE METAVALUES BREAKTHROUGH and IMMATURE PEOPLE WITH POWER… How to Handle Them have recently been released by Morgan James Publishing. Joe Girard, “The World’s Greatest Salesman” said of this book: “If I had read Larry Mullins’ book when I started out, I would have reached the top much sooner than I did.” Larry is founder and CEO of UltraSales, Inc. and can be reached directly at 904.794.9212 or at Larrym@furninfo.com. See more articles by Larry at www.furninfo.com or www.ultrasales.com.
View all articles by Larry Mullins