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Sales Talk Part 4: What's Really being Said in Everyone's Head

By Otto Papasadero


Hopefully, along with other team members, you have spent some time reviewing, discussing and practicing the concepts presented in the first three Sales Talk articles. These articles have been focused on you, the professional sales associate. Most of the information is designed to help you concentrate on what is going on in your own head during the sales presentation and process.

I have found that quite often, not enough attention is being paid to one’s own thoughts during this process. Instead, we seem to focus too much on what we think the customer is thinking, thus creating a conversation that tends to be more reactive than proactive. This most often leads to allowing the customer to make the decision to call the sales presentation to an end, such as by saying, “I’ll take your card and let you know” or “Let me think about it.”

This article will focus on the customer’s needs and expectations. Let’s start out with a brief lesson in Japanese that includes the use and mindset for the Japanese word for “customer.” The word お客さん (okyaku-san) is one of the most common Japanese words, heard every day and everywhere. Basically, it means "customer" or "client," but it is used for any kind of service. English has dozens of nuances for this word: patron, buyer, shopper, purchaser, clientele (such as of restaurants), regular (such as of a pub) and passenger (on a plane, train, bus or taxi).

This word or greeting is an ancient Japanese word that originally meant "guest" (at home, for example) or “visitor” and did not involve money. This word was used in a most gracious manner as a host welcomed a guest to his or her home. It is in this same sense of reverence and welcoming that this word continues to be used to greet a customer as an honored guest to a business.

I suggest that you reflect on this use and keep it in mind as you greet customers (or guests) to your businesses. This mindset or practice should not be limited only to sales associates, but should be practiced by every team member in the company. An example of this mindset goes back to Mike Morelli, a very successful service station owner in my childhood neighborhood who spent 40 years in his business. He said, “Many years ago, I ceased waiting on customers and started waiting on friends!”

Let’s spend a few moments to discuss what might be taking place in a customer’s head. Some of you already might be familiar with the following information. Even if you are, I suggest that you study each of the elements and discuss them with your fellow sales associates and all company team members.


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RRetailers, Servicers, Suppliers: A Call for Industry Participation

For more than 75 years, the North American Retail Dealers Association has been the voice of independent appliance, electronics, bedding and furniture retailers. Through education, representation and a host of benefits, NARDA has worked diligently for all retailers.

Here’s how you can help both the industry and your own enterprise: NARDA is now moving forward into new areas and seeks volunteers that can give an hour or less each month to help guide the association. Please indicate your interest and you will be contacted and given more information.

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