There I was, sitting across the table from a potential customer and I was desperately trying to sell him on the Dale Carnegie Course. I had talked to a number of his colleagues, exchanged several emails with him, and had talked with him several times on the phone.
Now, I finally had the opportunity to sit down with him face to face. This was my shot. Just one problem – he wasn’t engaged. He was hearing the sounds that were coming out of my mouth, but mentally he was on a tropical vacation. And I couldn’t get him back.
In a final attempt to salvage the sales process, I pulled out a piece of paper and used a technique I continue to employ in some of my consulting sessions. I’ll explain the process in a bit. Suffice to say the process used several Dale Carnegie Human Relations principles to get my potential client’s attention, spark some interest and get him engaged again. But first, what are these human relations principles?
Gain Willing Cooperation Instead Of Compliance
In my classes, we touch upon the 12 human relations principles used to gain willing cooperation from other people. These principles are essential for any type of communication effort when you want to go beyond simple compliance. Let’s face it, you don’t want to spend your time, attention, and energy constantly looking over someone’s shoulder just to get them to do the bare minimum. You want them to take up the cause themselves. And if you are in sales, these principles are indispensable to leading your client through your sales process.
For example, one of the foundational elements in our sales training is that your clients want an engaging experience, not just with your products or service, but with the sales process as well. Naturally, your facts have to be in order and your product or service has to solve the customer’s problems. But if you can’t adequately express how your product or service is uniquely qualified to resolve their problem and do it in a way that relates to the customer at an emotional level, then you are dead in the water.
Remember you are dealing with people. And you will find it easier, and the results longer lasting if you gain people’s cooperation and lead them to a mutually agreed upon outcome rather than trying to push them to a particular result.
Learn How To Communicate and Interact With People
Also, understand that we are human beings living together in a big community. To keep this community together and get stuff done, we use these principles all of the time, but in an unorganized and unfocused manner. Most of us never get any structured education on human communication or how to effectively interact with other people.
For example, consider basic mathematics. Most people in the U.S. have received some type of formalized education and training in arithmetic. So most of us can do simple tasks like balance a checkbook, count change at the local supermarket, use a ruler to figure out how to hang a picture, or how to evenly slice up a pizza to keep our 7 friends at a Super Bowl party happy. We do it without even thinking about it and we take this knowledge for granted.
What would our community be like if we didn’t have a formal method of learning arithmetic? What if each of us only learned arithmetic by watching dad balance his checkbook, watching uncle Bob count change at the convenience store, or helping aunt Jenny bake a cake? Our society would be completely different. Some people would be viewed as geniuses because they ‘naturally’ knew how to hang a picture so that the bottom edge was 5 feet from the floor or they knew how to divide up the Super Bowl goodies so that everyone got a fair share.
That’s the current state of the communication and human relations education in our society. We make use of the principles based on what we’ve gleaned from our local tribe. And we look at those individuals who can effortlessly communicate with their peers as special. We call them gifted speakers, natural born salesmen or saleswomen, or natural leaders. In reality, they are simply better at discovering and mimicking the actions of other people in their tribe and they apply what they learn regularly in their own lives.
The Human Relations Principles for Gaining Cooperation
You can see the 12 Human Relations Principles that deal with gaining cooperation here. We review this set in our communication program as part of a full review of human relations principles. It starts with building a firm foundation for the individual and culminates with those principles that deal with leading teams of people.
Now using these principles is unwieldy at first because we are consciously trying to control something that we have little skill in using effectively. However, with practice and training, individuals eventually reach a level where they use these skills competently and at an unconscious level, allowing them to fully focus their attention on their client or audience.
When I was with my client, I didn’t say, “Wait, let me see… I know I’ll use principle 12 in this situation.” Instead, I put the client’s needs first, looked at the situation from his perspective and asked, “In what way can I relate to this person from their situation to get him to move to the next stage in his career growth?”
Dramatizing My Idea Using The Force Field Method
Here’s what I did when I sat down with my potential client and put that blank piece of paper in front of him.
I told him, “Look, you have arrived at your current level of achievement in your career because of your skills and abilities. There are elements of your personal history that have propelled you to where you are today. So congratulate yourself for that.”
I then drew a horizontal line across the page, gave him the pen and said, “go ahead and write ‘accomplishments here and now’ on that line”, which he did.
Pointing to the line, I then said, “In order to get to where you are today, you had to leverage your skills and abilities, and form special relationships with certain people. These resources helped you attain those accompaniments.” I then took out my other pen, and drew five vertical arrows pointing upward below the horizontal line marked ‘accomplishments here and now’.
I said, “These lines represent your skills and abilities that have carried you to your success so far. Go ahead and write the five most important skills abilities that you feel have lifted you to this level of achievement.”
After my client quickly filled in his list of skills and abilities, I then pointed to the area above the horizontal line and said, “Now, obviously there’s something up here holding you back. You are where your are not just because your skills and abilities buoyed you to this level, but also because there’s something pushing down and keeping you from going higher. Otherwise, your abilities would have propelled you to the moon!” Again I drew 5 vertical lines, this time pointing down against the horizontal line. I said, “Go ahead and identify the things, events, people, and beliefs that are stopping this line from getting higher.” This time his identification process took a little longer.
When he was finished, I said, “OK. Quick review. You are where you are and a have achieved your accomplishments because your resources below the line, these skills, abilities, beliefs, history, and people are pushing your line up. At the same time your impediments listed above the line, such as limiting beliefs, bad situations, and maybe even some people, are acting to restrain you. And both of these “forces” will act on your achievement line until they balance out.”
“So here are my questions for you. What new resources, assets and people do you need to add to the bottom set of resources to lift your accomplishment line higher? In addition, what resources do you currently have that you can develop further to push that accomplishment line higher? When considering the forces on top that you have identified as restraints, in what way can we work to lessen their impact so they are exerting less downward pressure on your accomplishment line?”
Then I let him go to work. Within 5 minutes, he had identified a few hindrances on top that he could reduce immediately and several supporting resources that were easy opportunities to promote his growth. Within 15 minutes, he had created the skeleton for his own training program and he was excited. He was ready to get started.
Make no mistake. This didn’t come about because I had used some magic words on him or leveraged some super gimmicky sales technique for closing. I simply dramatized the idea on a piece of paper, saw the situation from his perspective, and let him take point on creating his ideal training program, making the idea his.
The next time you are making a sales call, delivering a presentation, or communicating with your team, don’t ask “If I use the Dale Carnegie cooperation principles will I be able to gain my audience’s cooperation”. Like it or not, you’re already using them. Instead ask, “How much better can I be at gaining their cooperation if I become skillful in using the principles that I’m already using?”
You can read more about the Dale Carnegie principles in the book “How To Win Friends And Influence People”, available at Amazon naturally.
As always, all of the principles will be covered in the Dale Carnegie Course being held this January. Contact me for info and schedules on this or any of our other programs.
Oh, and yes, the client did buy!