Sunday, September 07, 2008

I'm interested, but in you

[syndicated from a friend's blog where I posted this anonymously a few months ago]

Walking happily in the mall carrying my brand new Mac, a salesgirl caught my eyes and asked me to come over.

I walked closer stating clearly "I will come over, but I don't want to waste your time. I'm not buying anything." She was happy for me to approach regardless, smiling. I think I smiled back.

As soon as I got near the stand, she took my hand, kindly (felt nice) but firmly, and led me closer, turning me toward the stand and her. I was keenly aware of how this hand-hold made my body automagically follow her and of how breaking physical contact is difficult.

The salesgirl began to slowly fold the sleeve on the hand she held, probably preparing me to smell something, still touching my hand as she chatted me up. "Why do you have a Black Hat shirt but no black hat?"

I decided being nice and letting her flow with our chemistry, manufactured or not, is more than okay. How to simplify the answer though?

"I'm a hacker" *smile*

At this point, sleeve pulled back and hands removed she tried to convince me to try something on, I considered the "I'm allergic" excuse, but saw no reason to lie "Thank you, but I am not interested." I said with a finality.

"You bought a laptop?"
"Yes, just got out of the Apple store." Which incidentally, is right in front of the stand, and I was carrying the laptop case.
"Have you ever been stuck at an airport for like eight hours? What do you do for so long? Me it just drives nuts."
Raising my eye-brow but not missing a beat, showing real interest, I replied "I was once in London for six hours, I went to the center, ate lunch, and got back just in time for my flight."
"Yes," she said, slightly pouting "but what if you are stuck there for eight hours with nothing to do, what do you do then?"

When she left my hand alone. I waited a bit, and slowly started pulling my sleeve down while talking.

"It is always fun to get out of the airport and explore."
"Always?" she insisted.
"Sleep works. I really hate the Frankfurt airport, and there is nothing to do in Frankfurt." I rolled up my eyes "I was once stuck there for ten hours and just went to sleep."
"The laptop must help" she offered.
"Why, of course! The first thing I do when I get to the airport is look for food," *pause* "Obviously" *smile* "Then I start looking for a power socket for my laptop".

She tried again.
"How about this here..."
"I am not interested in creams."
"Ah, this is for your nails." *smile*
"Thanks, no." *smile*

Maybe my smile was an invitation incongruent to my verbal negation, but she kept going. When someone smiles at you--you often smile back whether you know it or not.

"Are you interested in me," *very slight pause* "showing you this here?" *smile*
I considered saying yes again and the allergic excuse tried to pop up, then with a large smile filling me and my face I heartily responded "I am interested in you, *slight pause* "not what you offer." *big smile* "But thank you so much."

Usually I'd not refuse, but I am not going to buy anything so why waste her sales time?

*Almost awkward pause* I followed up.

"You are good. If I was not aware of what you are doing, building rapport, you'd have me wrapped around your finger by now."
"Thanks, tell that to my boss." Who she pointed to. He was very interested in our conversation through-out, although he maintained his distance.

I half turned to go, and looking back from my shoulder "Can I ask you guys a quick question?"
"Sure" she said. She was still looking at me and nice, but not as excited and slightly pouting.

"Well," I began "again, you are very good, but did anyone teach you..."
She softly cut in "The story was true."
"I am sure it was," *smile* "but before you had your own story, did anyone teach you an example story to use?"
"No," she said "it's all mine." at this point the boss was also in the conversation, although he never really spoke. He leaned in and had his half smile of amusement and interest changed to one of interest and sarcasm.

I took my cue, thanked them both, and left.

Four points:
1. Holding my hand (shaking it then not leaving?) gave her control over me to make sure I stayed and move me around. It made us closer instantly. Maintaining touch opened me to her approach and made sure I listened. Even with the real-time analysis of what she was doing, it was slightly difficult for me to not do whatever she asks.

Powerless to stop it or not, me "letting" her fold my sleeve, although done slowly while keeping eye contact with me (so that I barely notice), implies that I already showed interest in what she offers. Regardless of me clearly stating otherwise. Having done that, why not try some perfume? It would be silly to roll the sleeve back down without trying, right?

2. She attempted to create rapport with me by speaking about my Black Hat shirt. I let her, but did not agree to buy. She may not have known much about hacking, decided I required a more intelligent approach or chose to use a different story to create more rapport.

Picking on another environmental cue, she spoke of my new laptop with the airport story. Perhaps my accent helped her spot me as a foreigner, but a separate story helped us feel more familiar with each other and took longer to explore.

3. When I said I am not interested in creams, she immediately disarmed me with "nails". This took me back a moment as I am a guy, and not a very beauty-aware one.

It was a nice and natural way to change the subject and kill my objection--what she said (nails) wasn't as important as this negation (don't worry). In my case though it wasn't the best approach--Especially as I didn't shave in two weeks. It should have screamed at her.

4. Although said in a flirtatious manner and not offensive, my "I'm interested in you, not what you sell" was a carbon copy of her disarming techniques. She couldn't break rapport, especially since I kept the chat with a smile after that.

Turning to leave then staying, but talking almost as in an after-thought without facing her, made her feel she isn't stuck with me and allowed me to explore her sales techniques without being too threatening, especially as I am four times her size. She probably lied, though.

All-in-all, it was a fun conversation and I didn't waste more than two or three minutes of her time. I didn't realize I could analyze her sale so easily. I can't wait to try this again in a year when I know more and see what I spot then.

Perhaps with a more advanced sales person such as an insurance agent, who will be more sophisticated. Seeing my progress is a big boost to my enthusiasm.

Gadi Evron.

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Sheraan (South Africa) said...

Gadi, what resources/exercises would you recommend for increasing one's ability to analyze human situations, especially seller-buyer interactions? I have some acumen, but am always trying to learn more.

gimley said...

I'm not a very "aware" person. This was a combination of me starting to become aware to such matters, and being self-conscious due to spending money on the laptop.

Then, I became very paranoid when she took my hand... and one has to be careful when one is paranoid about reaching conclusions.

Resources... hmm. Good question. Some people "get" this "stuff" naturally, and lack analysis skills. Others don't and learn analysis skills.

Most of the books are on marginal subjects and then presented in a "fad of the month" form, with pseudo-science and pesudo-religion mixed in.

I will try and think of a "best" first step, and follow-up. For now, here is one of my (newer) favorite quotes:

"Our subconscious power cannot function without its own engineer--our conscious technique."
-- Constantin Stanislavsky, "An Actor Prepares".

Sheraan (South Africa) said...

Thanks for the tip, and any further guiding thoughts would also be appreciated. The beauty of being able to understand, dissect, and hopefully (eventually) master human interaction is the improvement in relations amongst all whom you interact with.

Re: the article, very nice analysis and description of the situation. I'll definitely be more "aware" next time I set foot in a shopping center.

Next question: Who are the best salespeople in the world, bar none? Car salespeople? Insurance reps? Expensive clothing store attendants? Strippers? Estonian booze promoters ;o) ?

Would love to hear your thoughts...

gimley said...

The best sales people in the world? I don't know, politicians?

The good ones are those who don't remind you of snails, with a huge fake smile and get you to itch all over the place.

JEK said...

For all you salespeople out there- my most sincere recomendation of Barry Maher's "No Lie Truth Is The Ultimate Sales Tool". For Gadi, have you ever read Tim Hartford's "Undercover Economist", or "Logic of life"? Lots of thnigs can be analyzed easily with common sense.


Peter (Switzerland) said...

Could I recommend Tim Rowland? He's AFAIK a magician by trade (i.e. knows about deception), but the most intesting thing he's done from your perspective is write the book "The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading" (see which details how tarot readers and future tellers actually do their job. An alternative source is again a "magician", research Derren Brown and what he does. He used to do card magic, but then found the no-props approach more interesting. This man is a dangerous combination of smooth artistic excellence with a keen intellect, and his work is simply amazing. YouTube has some samples of his programs.

Anonymous said...

All this story shows is that Steve Jobs has more traction with you than pretty sales girls.