Whether we are a salesperson or not, there are times in our daily lives when knowing how to sell well turns often awkward situations into positive outcomes for everyone.
We are social animals. We rely on others for our existence which means we need to engage with others in some way to be able to live effectively and have a meaningful existence.
Let’s look at the new school year as an example: there are often many new faces, new people to meet and people to interact with across the year whether you want to or not.
This means that people find themselves in many situations they may or may not be prepared for. Like:
- Setting up play dates for your children with other children’s parents;
- Greeting and welcoming new neighbours into your community;
- Approaching neighbours about … whatever;
- Asking someone out on a date;
- Creating a new community or school project;
- Creating a new parent group;
- Introduce yourself as someone new or to someone new, like new parents, families, teachers; and
- Making new people (families, parents, students, teachers) feel welcome to your community or neighbourhood.
You get the gist.
Not everyone finds these types of tasks easy to do. For some, it’s just second nature, but for many others, it’s very daunting. What if they say no? What if it’s not the right time?
People don’t like to be rejected by their tribe and find it intimidating breaking into a new tribe. So igniting new relationships is just like setting up new client relationships. How do I get accepted? How do I get off on the right foot? How do I make a good impression? How do I build a trusting relationship? How do I get along with these people?
All of these tasks require us to know how to plan, prospect, enquire, understand others and find ways to engage in meaningful ways with these people so we can get along and move forward. Ideally.
Let me share with you a specific example to illustrate my point.
Last weekend I was harvesting our annual crop of blood plums. It was a good season with about a 30 kilograms harvest. What we normally like to do is make a Pflaumenmus, a plum butter (see recipe below) and we also bottle the plums. However, given previous harvests, we had more than enough produce so we didn’t want to cook anything. But I also didn’t want to have these delicious plums go to waste as there are only so many fresh plums you can eat yourself.
So I had a plan. I was going to distribute these plums to my neighbours and some friends. I divided the produce ready to take my free plums door-to-door and offering them to my neighbours, some of who I know well and others not at all.
Have you ever tried to go door-to-door selling something?
It is not easy. Even if what you have is for free. People may be wary because they are caught t off guard. They must have been thinking: ‘Who is this person and what do they want?’ You can see the challenge.
So before I left for my plum distribution drive, I developed my VBR — valid business reason — for calling on them. It went something like this:
People I didn’t know: “Hi, I’m your neighbour from up the street. We have an abundance of fresh plums we cannot use and I was wondering if you would like to have some?”
Immediately everyone knew why I was there and what I was offering. When they said ‘yes’, because no one said ‘no’, I instructed them to go and get a large bowl so I could give them plenty of plums. Everyone was very happy.
To people I did know, I said something similar: “Hi [person’s name], we have an abundance of fresh plums we cannot use and I was wondering if you would like to have some?”
So easy. I managed to get around to 12 houses which took me three hours because besides distributing my plums, I got to have wonderful conversations with my neighbours. I even got some corn and chilli in return. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
There are real skills involved here. But it takes a clear plan and good intentions to help us get on our way.
Knowing how to introduce yourself, help people quickly understand why you are there or contacting them, giving them a choice to say yes or no, and being open, friendly and welcoming makes a big difference to all sorts of relationships.
You never need to sit back and do nothing if you want to do something worthwhile.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
- 3kg blood plums
- 400 g sugar (fine)
- 1 point of a knife ground cloves
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- Some dark rum to taste
- Lemon zest
- Wash blood plums, let drain and remove pits.
- Cut plums in smaller pieces and cook them in a pan with minimal water until they are somewhat soft, stir frequently.
- Puree prunes with a hand blender.
- Add spices and lemon zest.
- Pre-heat oven to 175°.
- Use a roasting pan or any pan that is deep enough, but first clean it thoroughly. There should not be any grease in it at all.
- Fill in the warm plums.
- Add 400g sugar, mix with a wooden spoon.
- Let it cook for 30 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven, mix well, place again in oven for another 30-60 minutes.
When is it done? Use a wooden spoon and draw a line in the mashed prunes. If you can see the line very well, the plum butter is done.
Add some rum if you like.
Place plum butter in jars previously rinsed with boiling water. Close with a lid and keep them for about 20 minutes upside down, then turn them into normal position.
Keep the Pflaumenmus in a cold place.