It could have happened to anyone. I was on a rare visit to a mega shopping mall to exchange a Christmas gift. There in the middle of the shoppers, displays, and kiosks, I had a moment of uncertainty about where to find my destination. Immediately I was approached by a young woman from a kiosk. She asked me a question and I didn’t catch what she was saying at first, so I turned to hear her.
By that time, we were discussing whether I knew about collagen and she was offering me free samples. Enough rapport had been created for me to come over to her booth and sit while she applied lotion to one side of my face!
Both she and her manager then exerted some fine influencing skills with the goal of making a sale. At first, it was a sale of several hundred dollars worth of products that would last me a year. The deal was actually not outrageous at all. By the time I left, I was being offered a $59 deal, due to my very good fortune of being there when the manager just happened to stop by.
I was on my way to a particular store with one errand in mind, and a desire to get home soon. The fact that I even considered the purchase is a testament to their selling skills.
Applying a SYNTAX Influence filter, I observe that they definitely know their goal. They also adjust it based on their assessment of the situation. We move from a full line of products to “which one do you like the best?” The attractive young woman built rapport, first enough to draw me in, then enough to discuss where she is from, my own family background, our ages and skin, and how wonderful the product is.
I accepted the offer of having the stuff put on me (though I would have been happier if they did both sides of my face!). They did their best to lead me to the next goal. I made the counteroffer that I would take their contact information and think about it. Because I was clear on my goals, I could engage with them and still decline their offer.
I laughed when someone else working for the same company approached me at the next corner. I told her I already had the product on one side of my face. She began to use several of the closing strategies they had used–how lucky I was that she could make an exception for me and give me the best price.
She didn’t have much hope of building the rapport this time, as I was no longer in a moment of unclear destination and I already knew the scoop. She did help me locate the store I wanted to find. I received the benefit I needed and was soon enough on my way home.
Was there anything they could have done to get me to their outcome? Maybe not. That’s the benefit of keeping my goals in mind.
Did they achieve part of their goal? Yes, I am attracted to their products and might actually plan to purchase one item from them in the future. I will have had time for my own decision strategy to work. I don’t usually decide on an unplanned purchase without sleeping on it. For sure, I know more about their product than I did before.
At another time or context, if I were less grounded, unclear on my goal or if I didn’t feel as free to decline the offer, the outcome might have been different.
To be truly masterful in a relationship-based sale, they would have detected my decision strategy and worked with it; as it was, they were in a transactional sale where they either ring the cash register or they don’t.
If they interact with enough people, I imagine they make enough sales to do well. Retail is tough, especially out in the mall corridor. I speculate that this particular group, from a culture where bargaining is much more direct than in most of the US, has much more freedom and range to use selling skills than, say, a midwestern US native.
When we are influencing others, our flexibility is a big factor in who wins, i.e. whether we get the outcome we are after. Short term, the most flexibility wins the day. I believe that to be truly influential you have to take the other person’s outcome into account. In longer term relationships, nobody wins if both don’t win.
The best influencing skills are those that find a way for all parties’ needs to be met. If it weren’t for my moment of disorientation in the mall, I wouldn’t have engaged with the sellers in the first place.
When I choose to enter a conversation or negotiation, it is in part because of a desire for mutual benefit.
My interaction with the skincare ladies was mutually beneficial – it went just as far as it served both of us. I had fun and I hope they did too!