I had a shocking business interaction a few days ago. A businessperson (let’s call her Cindy) wanted me to purchase one or more of her products. The conversation started with a clear message that she wanted to help my business, meet my stated need and give me some of her precious time. For free, she shared a couple of her top-of-mind suggestions regarding how I could address the need at hand. They were worth being “free” as none of her ideas added any value to my own thoughts or actions on the matter at the time.
Cindy proceeded to tell me about some of her products, along with sizeable doses of flattery like feathers on a fishing fly. Within every dose of flattery, the sharp hook was always present. I got the sense that her words to me were so well-rehearsed that they were the same words used in countless of her sales pitches. I doubted the sincerity of her compliments. Cindy failed to gain my trust.
I politely appreciated her product suggestions and noted I would consider them and get back to her. However, she insisted that her special price offers would not stand beyond the duration of our call. I explained that I don’t work that way – I don’t make business decisions under artificial pressure. Perhaps you’re like me: I am one of those people whose “No” button grows larger in direct proportion any salesperson’s insistence on an immediate “Yes”.
Then the most surprising, actually shocking, thing happened. This highly successful businesswoman arrogantly declared that she didn’t need me but that I needed her, therefore she should not be the one to wait for me to consider whether her offer was acceptable to me or not. I chose not to react but simply confirmed that I am who I am and choose not to make decisions the way she wanted me to. This obviously got up her nose because she then launched into a full-scale attack! With raised voice, tense neck and domineering body language, she rudely criticised my choice and expressed it as a flaw in my character.
Without being baited, neither to buy nor to reflect her behaviour, I wished her all the best for the year ahead. Fumbling for a shred of decency, she wished me well in return.
While I laugh now as I recount the experience, I want to thank Cindy for the amazing lesson she taught me. I am now more convinced than ever that authentic care for a potential client is exponentially better than pressurizing people for a quick deal.
- Let’s do more to care more for our potential clients this year – listen to their real needs; be more generous in giving time upfront so that our suggestions can demonstrate meaningful value.
- Let’s do more to authentically express that care – be real in our compliments and calmly confident that they will choose to do business with us if our offering is right for them.
Some might say that this gentle approach will not achieve massive targets in this cut-throat world. Maybe it won’t. But I, for one, want to be true to myself. Kindness to customers surely has a place! Perhaps more so than ever as human beings grow increasingly disillusioned with ruthlessness in business.
I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts of your experiences of aggressive sales or authentic care. Warm regards, Sam Samantha@BrillianceCX.com