A couple of weeks ago, my husband took my 10-year-old daughter Erin (not her real name) with him to pick up some items in a small specialty store. While he was shopping around, Erin busied herself with her own shopping list – items that she wanted for herself.
When it came time to pay, Erin happily looked up at my husband and asked him if she could have the fruit-flavoured water and two bags of chips that she was holding.
He quickly glanced at the items and then at her and said – “you can have one bag of chips – put away the rest.”
The remarkable part of this story is that Erin told me later that all she wanted was the bag of chips. She then proceeded to tell me how she got her father to buy it for her.
Erin is blessed with the gift of selling. In fact she’s elevated it to an art. Faced with tough teachers or unyielding parents, Erin has her eye on the target and will find a way to sell others on what she wants. In this case, a bag of potato chips.
So what principles were at work here? How did Erin get her father to get her that bag of potato chips?
Listening to Erin tell me her story, I’ve identified three principles:
1. Bundle your products (or services)
Erin knew that if she were to ask for a bag of chips outright, she may or may not have gotten it. But Erin didn’t want to take a chance. She really wanted that bag of chips.
So what did she do?
She bundled her offering into a package, effectively making three offerings instead of one. By doing this, she was giving her father more choices, thereby making it more difficult for him to say no.
(Note: Selling products to strangers is not this clear cut. It’s important to show your prospects each bundle and price them accordingly, making the “best value bundle” stand out.)
2. Know thy prospect
Whatever it is you’re selling, make an offer that your prospects can’t refuse. In order to do that, you must understand your prospect (almost) better than he understands himself.
In Erin’s case, she wanted only one bag of chips. And knowing that her father would find it easy to say “no” to one offer and would not yield to her begging, but that her father would not want to be too harsh with her (say no to everything she chose), Erin knowingly made him an offer he wouldn’t be able to refuse.
Erin’s a happy kid and she treats the world as if it’s one big playground. At 10, her world philosophy is that everyone should be happy. And I hope it never changes.
Because her smile is one of her most important assets.
In his book Influence, Robert Cialdini says “People prefer to say ‘yes’ to those they know and like.” And whether or not you realize it, smiles make us more likeable.
As humans, we mimic others. So when we smile, we cause others to smile. This smiling makes people feel good. And so when they next see us, they will associate feeling good with seeing us thus making them more inclined to want to do business with us.
Are there any business lessons you learned from a child? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.