Nothing is more powerful in the world of B2B or B2C sales than a face-to-face encounter between a satisfied customer and a credible sales professional. This is the kind of human exchange in which influence can be wielded for the good of both individuals. When a customer or client says “thank you,” for example, you must be able to leverage those words — or risk blowing a major opportunity to take that sales relationship to a higher level.
Here are three things to do when you hear “thank you”:
1. Don’t waste words.
What’s typically the first thing out of your mouth when a customer thanks you? “No problem. That’s why I’m here.” A coworker thanks you for your assistance, and you say, “Sure, it was easy.” A supplier sends a note of appreciation, and you leave it at that. Not only are these relationships not furthered, but you actually also may be damaging them with the responses you give — or don’t give. Making someone feel unappreciated, incompetent or unworthy of a response is a surefire way to not increase your influence.
2. Drop the arrogance act.
Another potential problem is when the thank-you exchange is framed in such a way that the other person feels like he or she has just done a favor for Vito Corleone (“Someday I may call upon you to do a service for me.”) If you respond with a defiant, “And now you owe me one!” you’re just asking for animosity and opposition.
3. Rethink your response.
So how can you avoid under-responding or overreacting to a “thank you”? By using influential language. Robert Cialdini, author of the seminal work Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, suggests saying something like this: “My pleasure, because I know if the situation were reversed, you would have done the same for me!” Then watch as the other person nods furiously in agreement.
That’s how you use language to expertly and subtly earn a “chit” — an informal influence credit. Practice this approach until you’re comfortable using the language of Cialdini or similar language you develop on your own to create compelling yet conversational and influential exchanges.
(Photo by Gratisography)