When I first read the title of a recent sales tip written by Art Sobczak, Act Like a Child to Handle a No, I was confused, but being a big fan of Art’s weekly sales tips I could not help being intrigued. Fear of rejection is one of the biggest reasons sales professionals and small business owners fail but I have never thought about it from a child’s perspective. Children get rejected constantly but never stop trying to get what they want in most cases. Still, the first thing that came to my mind when I saw this title was, “I’m not about to tell my sales reps to start acting like children!” However, after reading Art’s sales tip several times and thinking of how my kids have manipulated me over the years I came to the conclusion that there really is a very good lesson to be learned here.
I would like to clarify one point. There are two types of persistence that I have observed in children. Some children are whiney little brats that nag and nag and nag, for anything and everything. Although it sometimes produces the desired results in the short term, the parent quickly gets annoyed with it and in response often becomes very negative toward the child in the long term. I would never encourage that type of behavior in a child or an adult.
Other children know that if they ask for something persistently, but nicely, always state a logical reason for what they want and ask for a good reason why they shouldn’t get it, they often will get their way. My daughter for instance, used to come to me nearly every day and ask if she could spend the night at a friend’s house. Here is how the conversation usually went every night for about 10 years.
“Dad, can I stay over at Jill’s house?”
“Why not? I have my homework done, practiced my guitar, cleaned my room and picked up the house like you asked me to.”
“You just stayed over at Jill’s house last night.”
“Okay but I got all A’s on my last report card and I’ve done everything you asked me to do all week. Why won’t you let me go?”
“I know and I appreciate that. I just think you need to stay home once in awhile.”
“But Jill doesn’t go to my school anymore and I hardly ever get to see her. She’s my best friend and next week she’s going to live with her mom so I won’t see her for the whole summer. Please let me go. I’ll stay home tomorrow.”
“Not tonight, maybe this weekend.”
“Okay, I’m not trying to argue but I just don’t understand why I can’t go. I never get into any trouble, I get good grades, I do my chores, and I do everything you ask me to. You always tell me I should have a good reason for telling others no. What is the reason you won’t let me go?”
“You know, you’re right about all of those things and I really don’t have a reason other than I would just like to have you home with me once in awhile. I guess it will be alright. Just plan on staying home tomorrow night.”
“Thanks Dad, I love you!”
“I love you too! Thanks for being such a great kid!” (Yep, she got me again!)
My daughter knew that by reasoning with me I would get tired and worn out but as long as she was being truthful and respectful I really couldn’t get mad at her. I had already told her no, so what was the worst that could happen? Now my son on the other hand would accept my rejection without further discussion. As a result, he had an earlier bedtime, didn’t get to go to as many sleep overs, etc.
It should be noted that this will not work on everyone. My daughter would ask me because she knew if she asked my wife the response would be something like…”Because I said so, now drop it!” Game over folks! Still, in sales I have found that very few people will blow you off for good because you ask for their business more than once. In fact, in most cases people respect the fact that you are persistent as long as you are helpful and not obnoxious.
Here is a link to Art’s sales tip. Act Like a Child to Handle a No