This week we feature an article by Eric Melchor, founder of Elevate My CX. He shares a story about a salesperson who performed a technique that even surprised a renowned social psychologist. If you’re a Customer Experience specialist, you might think that salespeople are not the kind of role models to get customer care tips […]
This week we feature an article by Eric Melchor, founder of Elevate My CX. He shares a story about a salesperson who performed a technique that even surprised a renowned social psychologist.
If you’re a Customer Experience specialist, you might think that salespeople are not the kind of role models to get customer care tips from. In fact, you’re probably telling yourself – “Salespeople? I give them customer experience tips and insights, not the other way around.”
But you’d be surprised. There’s a lot you can learn from those whose day-to-day activity consists of building rapport and trust with potential customers.
Consider for example Jim, who was consistently the top-performing salesperson at a fire alarm system company. Jim didn’t win every sale, who does, but he always outperformed his counterparts. He did this by performing a technique that you wouldn’t find in any sales training book or case studies on the best sales techniques. It was a technique that even surprised the renowned social psychologist Robert Cialdini who has written books about the psychology of influence.
When Cialdini accompanied Jim to learn how he approached the selling process, Cialdini discovered how Jim accomplished an aura of trust with potential customers that he had never seen before. And he did it by pretending to be a bit of a screwup. Here’s how:
Before Jim began his sales pitch, he made small talk with potential customers during his in-home visit that he had scheduled an appointment with. After making small talk to build rapport, the prospects (usually a married couple) were given a brief written test of fire safety knowledge which was designed to reveal how little they knew about the actual dangers of a home fire. Afterward, sales reps would begin their sales pitch by demonstrating the alarm system and showing prospects how their alarm system was superior to all others. Except for Jim.
Before Jim gave his sales pitch, he did something very interesting.
Jim would wait until the couple began taking the test. At that point, he would slap his forehead and say, “Oh, I forgot some really important information in my car, and I need to get it. I don’t want to interrupt the test; so, would you mind if I let myself out and back into your home?” And the response was always some form of “Sure, go ahead” while oftentimes it required giving him a door key. And while the prospects were busy taking the test, Jim would walk back from his car, open the front door, and enter their home.
Think about this for a second…
Who do you just let walk into your home? Only somebody you trust, right? Who do you like to do business with? Who will you follow and give 110% for? Only people you trust.
Like an ambitious salesperson, as a Customer Experience professional, I’m impatient with myself. I want the end results – the high NPS scores, the fabulous customer reviews, the customer journey that makes users smile with joy and want to tell others about your product. And when I jumped into my first CX role, I was almost paralyzed by the end result.
It was easy to dream about changing a company’s culture and influencing employee engagement. I read books, had a vision, created a customer experience roadmap listing all the things I wanted to tackle with a timeline and hurdles I needed to overcome. I dreamt about aligning key stakeholders and departments and getting everyone to collaborate together for the good of the customer. But what I forgot is that us humans are incredibly skeptic. And we’re not going to just hand over our house key to someone we just met. If I was going to make change happen and enhance the company’s customer experience, I needed to earn the trust of my colleagues including our front-line employees. So, building trust with the team, became the first pillar of my customer experience roadmap. It took some time (I’m not as good as Jim), but once people realized that I treated everyone with respect and was optimistic and kind, it became much easier to get things done at the company.
The truth is, it’s not just Jim you can learn things from. The best people in other industries know things you do not. Studying their techniques and learning from them can open doors for you. They’ve mastered not only tactics but also psychological insights that you have not. It would be easy to just follow and read the people who are at the top of your industry. Or you could challenge yourself and soak up everything those more experienced than you in all walks of life have to offer.
*Story about Jim featured in Robert Cialdini’s book, Pre-Suasion.
Eric Melchor runs an eccentric customer experience site at ElevateMyCX and crafts customer journey emails in his spare time. Learn how to plan (and craft) your CX Roadmap in minutes with Eric’s powerful CX Accelerator Planning Worksheet and No B.S. Friendly CX Roadmap, when you subscribe to the ElevateMyCX newsletter.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: Do Airline Passengers Have The Right To Recline?
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