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Winning May Not Be What You Want

 An instinct to win, immigrants are full of it.  Yet, in many situations, especially in business relationships, life is not about winning.  Instead, the key to any long term success is about creating effective relationships that’ll further your human capital.  This article will share a story about winning and cover a few of the countless basics in building effective relationships with your customers/employees.

On a bright sunny Thursday morning, my friend Melanie and I went to look at a car.  The sales person had countless challenges during the process.  The initial greeting lacked eye contact and the hand shake was weak.  Nor, did he find out who was doing the buying of the vehicle.  Furthermore, during the process, he was always attempting to argue, rather than to find the need.  My friend and I were looking at a Toyota Celica.  She currently owns a Jetta.  When asked about the buying options, she informed the sales person that she’s looking at the Celica and the Jetta.  Without gather further information, the sales person saw the Jetta as the weak point and pursued a course of action to discredit the Jetta.  During a 10 minute period, he pulled out magazines and made many statements that challenged the Jetta’s reliability.  The more he spoke of how poor the Jetta was, the more he was shooting himself in the foot since the customer (Melanie) currently owns a Jetta that ran very well.  Sure he knew that, but failed to consider how his words would be of a negative impact as he continuously contradicted her experiences.  Within a half hour of this conversation, the sales processes terminated.  Even though the test drive went well, the sales person shot off his mouth too much, without listening to the real needs of the customer or asking for it.

I’m sure that sales person is still sitting in his office, thinking he knew more than we did,  and he had many logical arguments that made sense to him.  Is winning about knowing that you won, without a contract at your desk?  An important lesson from this experience - do not debate against the customers’ experiences.  No matter how correct you might be about the logic of it, their experiences are always going to be more true to the customer.

As an immigrant, you all have a tremendous drive to succeed in this country.  Success is not about winning every single time, especially with your logic.  I’m sure you’re an intelligent person, but my logic is always better than your logic…  Isn’t your logic always better than mine…?  One basic rule to follow at all times, regardless if it’s a customer or an employee – Emotions first!

When you first greet another human being, first identify yourself with a confident voice and a firm hand shake.  Share your name with that person and perhaps, even add “my friends call me …”.  Indicating that you’re intent is to befriend this individual.  Having a confident introduction tells this person that you have nothing to hide and welcome him/her sincerely into your sphere of positive relationships.

As the other person respond, make sure to smile as you’re getting his/her name.  Then proceed to use that as often as you can, preferably at the end of each exchange of words.  Using another person’s name has scientifically proven positive experiences inside an individual’s mind.  When we hear our name, our brains create a measurable electric shock.  The higher number of positive shocks, the more likely another person will feel comfortable with you.

Now once you’ve made a good positive impression, it’s important to always seek understanding.  The challenge for most immigrants is that you’ve often become the hero of many situations and to many people.  You’re great at solving problems.  Yet, every time you solve a problem, did you ever consider that you’re disempowering the other person?  You’re basically telling him/her that “don’t worry, I know you don’t have the ability to solve it.  That’s why I’m here to fix it for you.  It makes me feel needed and I get to enlarge my ego every time I get to fix something for you”.  This was probably inside the mind of that sales person at the car dealership – trying to solve a perceived problem that didn’t exist so that he can be the hero.

The instant need to go after solving a problem is a limiting habit.  Without full information, the likelihood that you’re even solving the right problem is low.  So first, ask a bunch of questions.  Start with something general like “what is bothering you?” or “what do you think the challenge is?”  Once you get some idea, dig deeper with the problem.  Take the car sales process for example, a good question to start would be “help me understand your purpose for looking at a new vehicle?” or “What needs are not being met with the existing vehicle?”  These questions are designed to tell the other person that you do care about him/her.  Remember, life and business is about relationships, not specific features of a car.  People will do business or befriend you only if they believe that you care about them.

Once you have some ideas on the need or purpose, confirm the need/purpose and then dig deeper to get further clarification.  “I can understand how that’s important… what would an ideal car do for you?”  As you’ve helped the customer figure out their need, help them find a solution on their own.  Trust me, they all have an idea on how to solve any situation, all you have to do is ask. By asking, you’re further making positive shocks in the brain and increasing the emotional connection. When it comes to making a final call, emotions make up nearly 80% of our decisions.  With a focus on the emotions, you can close any deal, whether it’s selling a car or building a strong friendship.

So when you’re out talking to people, here’s the basics of creating positive emotions:

  • Introduce yourself with confidence
  • Use a firm handshake
  • Smile at the other person
  • Use their name often
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Help overcome challenges through self-empowerment

These basic techniques are used by countless successful immigrants in sales, marketing, management, and entrepreneurship.  Regardless of your profession, building effective relationships is the key to everything you ever desire.  Take one suggestion from this article and use it to see how it can empower you today.

 By Dr. Ted Sun 

July, 2005

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