Here’s an interesting post on “selling and persuading” from Charles H. Green over at Trusted Advisors.
“Well, well. You saw the title, right? And yet here you are, reading this blogpost.
Worse yet – you’re probably here reading this blogpost because you saw the title warning you not to. What does that say about you?
We Are All Teenagers
You’re hardly alone. People don’t really ever grow out of our rebellious teenage phase. You know, the phase where whatever someone tells you to do just drives you in the other direction?
Partly that’s about finding our wings. But mostly, I suspect, it’s about wanting respect from the Others – in teen-hood that’s parents; in adulthood, it’s Everyone Else.
Whatever the reason, I suggest to you: we are all teenagers. We all do not like being told what to do. In fact, we are sorely tempted to do theopposite of what we are told to do.
The implications for sales are profound. Permanent teen-hood means a continual state of resisting being told what to do. It would seem obvious that the worst way to sell someone, the worst way to get your advice taken, the worst way to persuade another to your worldview, is to tell them what they should do/think/believe/buy.
And yet – salespeople everywhere insist on trying to sell us.
The best way to persuade someone turns out to be paradoxical – you mainly listen to them.
That’s right – to best persuade, first stop trying to persuade. In fact, stop talking. Listen. The natural reaction of our species is then to return tit for tat, listen for listening.
As proof, here are some time-tested samples of folk-wisdom that express the same point more eloquently than I can.
- People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
- You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
- I can’t make you love me, if you don’t.
- You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.
- The best way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.
- Ask questions before you give solutions.
You might even try it on a teenager. It worked for me, and on me.