“People are the same wherever you go.”
“Everyone is different.”
These truisms seem contradictory; yet there is an element of truth in both that is important for you to understand if you are in sales.
The more you travel, read and meet individuals from diverse backgrounds, the more you realize that most people want the same basics – to be safe, to be fed, to connect with others, to feel worthwhile and to be loved.
Yet within those commonalities, there is always uniqueness. What you eat, your experiences, education, skills, preferences – all combine to create the individual that you have become. This is true regardless of where you were born.
As a salesperson you meet individuals from many different backgrounds. How do you relate? Remember that most people want the same basics. We have a lot in common. Most of us will respond favourably to these certain social behaviours:
- A warm, open smile is universal. It means the same in any language.
- In most cultures, looking the individual in the eye helps to make a connection.
- Show genuine interest in the other person. Ask respectful questions.
- Curiosity combined with a willingness to learn and an open attitude will encourage others to share.
- Humility and generosity trump arrogance.
- When you help others get what they want they will tend to reciprocate.
It is important to remember that everyone is unique and once we get past our teenage years we like to express that uniqueness. We like if others uncover and recognize what it is that makes us special. Asking questions that reveal the essence of that person and lets them shine is like paying them a compliment.
When I started in sales I had a natural curiosity about others and took the approach that I could learn something from each person I met. So I would dig, sometimes hard, to learn the hidden gems. And I did learn. About making homemade wine, building brick fireplaces, taxation laws, and countless other delightful things. In the process I developed clients and friendships that have lasted over 30 years.
Dealing with differences is not optional. If you are in sales you will meet many different individuals. Relate to them as one human being to another. Not superior or inferior, but on equal terms. You understand them better than you might think.