A few weeks ago, I came across a sales article exploring how to “sell like a child” that outlined how we can learn from the true artists of negotiation: small children.
Having kids myself, ages three and six, I took the bait and found myself intrigued by the simple tactics children use to get what they want. Had I been ignoring the sales training gold sitting at my fingertips all this time?
I started observing my children through a different lens. What other similarities existed between my pint-sized offspring and the best sales professionals I have encountered in my career?
Here’s what I’ve noticed:
They are naturally curious
Did you know that the average four year old girl asks approximately 390 questions a day?
Yeah, I didn’t either, until I had kids. It comes on early and fast, the insatiable thirst to understand the world around them.
For my son, his first deep dive into the world of “why” was about motorized vehicles. He wanted to learn everything about cars, tractors, trains, buses. He quickly started using the word “why” to question just about every decision we would make.
- “Why do we brush our teeth?”
- “Why can’t I have an extra bedtime story?”
- “Why can’t I play with Daddy’s power drill?”
Like any sleep-deprived parent of a preschooler and infant, this constant questioning was absolutely maddening to me, but looking back I understand it. He was seeking to understand the world and how adults made decisions. And to think we tried to stifle that curiosity!
Just like the most successful sales people I have encountered, small children use questions to help understand people’s motivations and to combat rejection. And speaking of rejection…
They can take a lot of rejection
They say that it takes 7-10 attempts of asking for a conversation before a prospect will say yes. In the case of my kids, they pretty much never give up.
Whether it is one more book, a TV show before breakfast, or staying up late, most young kids don’t view the word “no” as the end of the discussion. Instead, they take it as a cue to reframe the question—all in practicing their tactics of negotiation.
They are competitive and keep score
My son measures himself against the competition (his three-year-old sister) constantly. From who gets the most minutes in the bathtub to the biggest glass of milk, he is always keeping score.
Isn’t a sticker chart just the junior version of a sales leaderboard? And boy, does he like to win.
They know how to close
Kids are the best closers, and my kids are no exception.
I recently picked up my son from school and, as we were walking to the car, he casually said to me, “So Mommy, what are we having for dessert tonight?” Now, in our family, we have dessert on holidays, birthdays, and the occasional weekend, so it’s not a common occurrence, but those simple words planted the seed in my mind, and I thought, “This kid just used the assumptive close on me!”
And in case you are curious, although I completely saw through George’s salesmanship, I had to commend him for his tactics. After he met my objections (eating dinner), he got his close (vanilla ice cream).
They believe in what they are selling
Ever seen a child pull out the big guns when they feel “meh” about something? Yeah, me neither.
Regardless of what they’re “selling”, they feel passionate in their persuasion. That kid running the neighborhood lemonade stands truly believes that their citrus inspired beverage is the best on the planet and that their customers will be better off after their thirst is quenched.
I believe the difference between selling for a paycheck or as a true profession is the belief that your customers will be better off using the goods or services you provide. I have been fortunate in my career to work at companies where I understood and believed in the value of the products and services I represented. I’ve witnessed the real, material impact that can come when a business need is identified, solutions are implemented, and organizations can focus on the growth of their organizations. At Ruby, we have the privilege of connecting business owners with an innovative solution that helps them grow and thrive, one happy caller at a time—something my team and I are proud to believe in.
There are many ways we can learn to “sell like a child.” But there are also many ways children are the worst sales people. Tune back in soon for the second post in our series!