As the holiday shopping season reaches its peak in the coming two weeks, retail professionals will be busier than ever. Whether you sell motorcycles, jewelry or consumer electronics, your job is to persuade holiday shoppers to buy what you’re selling.
My advice during this critically important but potentially lucrative and exciting time? Don’t be one of those brands, companies or individuals that skate the fine line between ethical and manipulative persuasion.
Whenever I talk about persuasion — on my website, at speaking engagements and even when out with friends (hey, it’s what I do!) — I define “persuasion” as “ethically winning the heart and mind of your customer.”
“Ethically” means simply doing something honestly and without trickery or deceit. “Winning” means making the sale. “Heart” refers to gaining emotional buy-in, “mind” refers to logical buy-in and “customer” is the specific person you are attempting to persuade.
Turning to manipulative methods is tempting — especially when there are sales quota to meet, and consumers have many other purchasing options.
To keep sales professionals from engaging in questionable tactics when they hear “no,” I suggest following my “ART of Persuasion” model. Even though you may be familiar with this, it’s worth a reminder during the holiday shopping season.
1. ACKNOWLEDGE the objection.
Doing so psychologically prepares the buyer to hear what you have to say: “I understand and can see what you’re saying, but may I share with you some information that might change your mind?”
2. RESPOND in a substantive and compelling manner.
Do so by using three key pieces of information: “If you’re looking for a lower price, you’ll find it somewhere else. But if you’re looking for great buying experience, you’re in the right place.” And then give three reasons why the customer should buy from you and your store — not from someone else and not online.
3. TRANSITION to the next step.
Remember to remain respectful of the buyer’s objections:
“What else would you like to know?”
“Another thing to consider is …”
“Do you have other questions I can answer?”
“What do you think?”
If the response is still negative, you have more work to do. Communication and objection handling are true art forms, and you’ll be like Picasso when you master the ART of this form of rebuttal.
Like any useful model, the ART of persuasive communication can be applied to just about any situation.
You won’t hear “yes” every time, but you’ll be shocked at how often you do.