Steal skills from another industry

May 18 2012

There are certain tools that are transferable, regardless of industry or job title.

Step inside Tiffany’s. You’ll see plenty of couples and women roaming around. Inch closer to the diamond cases and eavesdrop. You won’t hear any hard selling from the staff. The product speaks for itself. If you’ve come to Tiffany’s, you want the name on your finger.

The good sales people say very little. When they do speak, they repeat what information the customer has already provided, using empathy to build rapport with the shopper. Active listening, reframing, and reflecting statements make clients and buyers feel heard, acknowledged, respected.

What is this? Motivational interviewing. The same techniques you might find in a group therapy session, the same phrasing and tools a substance abuse counselor might use with her client, are being channeled onto the sales floor:

  • Pointing out a couples’ ring selection might not mirror their commitment to each other — creating discrepancy
  • Accepting a customer’s reluctance as momentum to move conversation onward — rolling with resistance
  • Supporting the buyer, giving them confidence about their purchasing decision — supporting self efficacy

And questions. Lots of questions. Open ended, asking for permission — questions that help the seller gather information about the buyer and their buying needs, their spending patterns, helping identify the likelihood of the sale.

“Can we look at the princess cut?” “What does that design remind you of?” “Do you mind if we step over to this case to look at our signature bands?”

What could you borrow from a different industry? Could you lend skills to someone in another field?