Lessons in Successful Selling: Attunement

Monday, 20 May 2013 06:30
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In a few days, my daughter Caroline, will be graduating from high school and in the Fall she will begin her college experience at The Ohio State University. While attending an academic achievement assembly this week, the audience heard enlightening remarks delivered by my daughter's school system Superintendent, Dan Good. His message was powerful and relevant for all in attendance.

Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends...

Achieve Attunement for Successful Selling

At the academic achievement assembly, Superintendent Good wished t impress upon the students the importance of being able to be effective in selling. He explained that virtually everyone is involved in motivating and influencing others, even if they're not professional sales people. He then cited work done by popular business author and speaker, Dan Pink whose book The Science of Selling, featured the concepts of Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity as representing the "new ABC's" of selling.

In this newsletter, I wish to focus on the first of these elements: Attunement. Good described Pink's premise that Attunement is the ability to reflect the other party's perspective, rather than emphasizing yours' to them. He explained the value of this in selling situations by citing data from a study in which food servers who accurately recited their customer's orders to them verbatim received 70% greater tips than those who didn't. Further, he told us that if the server placed their hand gently on the customer's forearm, this promoted a similar reward lift. His lesson: if one demonstrates their full commitment to meeting another party's needs, this behavior will more often than not be recognized and rewarded by them.

According to Dan Pink, Attunement can be achieved when the customer is put first in every selling situation. In his Pink Newsletter, he recounts a classic Attunement exercise practiced by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at his management team meetings. Bezos always leaves an empty chair at the table as a reminder that the customer should be paramount. "If you're crafting a presentation, the empty chair can represent the audience and its interests. If you're gathering material for a sales call, it can help generate possible objections and questions the other party might raise. If you're preparing a lesson plan, an empty chair can remind you to see things from your students' perspective."

Attunement is the act of putting yourself in your customers' shoes and tailoring communications and behaviors to reflect understanding and a commitment to meeting their needs. In discussing this message with my daughter Caroline, she readily accepted the premise that customers are more likely to be positively influenced when their interests are being fully acknowledged by the seller and when favorable rapport is established. However, more importantly, she also recognized that to be successful one should do more than just politely and cordially parrot back others' wishes. They should also seek to attain a deeper understanding of needs and add value where appropriate, to address a customers' interests.

They're teaching some powerful lessons to students (and their parents) in school these days.

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