One can turn it around as much as one likes, communication at work, differs greatly from that used in leisure time. It's all right, if the customer has a problem for which a solution is easily found. What however, if the expense limit were to be exceeded or the required spare part is wrong, or was not delivered at all?
The situation would be much worse still, if a company employee has made a mistake which can not be completely rectified, and one has to explain this to the customer, particularly if, through this mishap, the customer faces additional costs, bother and/or waiting periods. The situation becomes even more difficult if the will of the customer should be influenced, without any seemingly obvious necessity. This could also be seen as a general problem of a trade sector whose aim is, to get a purchase contract signed, or at least to obtain confirmation of an order.
To start with, the normal rules of communication are also valid here. Listen to what the customer says, try to see the situation from his/her standpoint, do not directly contradict, and one should ensure that one is always, at least on equal footing with the customer. It becomes more and more difficult, the more opportunity that is given to the customer to state his/her position clearly, particularly when one wants to persuade him/her of the opposite. Who feels comfortable with a decision which is the opposite of that which one had previously loudly proclaimed? Thus, a bit of food for thought in the other direction is necessary, before such repetitions occur. If this leads to a pause in the conversation, the salesperson should not attempt to keep it going, but should wait until the other person takes the initiative.
Previously, communication technologies had often been stamped as brainwashing. Indeed, the fact is, that customers actually, will only do, what they deep down want to do. The task is simply to find out what this is and with as little effort as possible, make it clear to the customer. One only starts the thinking process, the other person carries it further. There are of course, always at least two personal desires, e.g., to save money and the safety aspect. If one wants to sell safety-extras to the man/woman, their intrinsic value must be higher than the amount of money saved. In this case, a constant, exact observation is necessary. Should a conflict situation arise, the whole sale-contract could fall through. Therefore, one should, before taking this sort of action, also pay attention to the buyer's other terms. Experienced car-sales people have a feeling for such evaluations.
One can compare communication to the process, whereby a stream-flow is diverted and the force lost by the customers insistence, is more than compensated. However, be warned, the more people who are practiced in such communication technologies, the greater the chance is of being confronted by just such a person. In this case, a lot depends on recognising the situation very early, and reacting on it, before the other feels confronted by his/her own methods.
Just how differently communication can be mastered, can be seen in the permanent squabbling that goes on between the dealers and the manufacturers because of the advertising. The former mostly select the direct approach, appealling to the buyers to DO IT NOW! Actually, the customer is being underestimated, he/she would like to make the decision themselves. The really clever ones, give (often with very unconventional methods) food for thought. This is shown by a wonderful, old commercial for the VW-Bus (Micro-Bus) in the USA. It was discovered, that primarily, women didn't like the car, despite the fact that it was, e.g., very practical for large families. The advertising took the bull by the horns and asked, “why won't your wife let you buy this car?”.
Nowadays, it is of course, much more subtle. Sometimes the food for thought is there, indeed, one asks oneself if it will lead to the right decision. Nevertheless, the open, frank idea which is put forward is always better than the subconcious suggestion. This forces the prospective buyer into a corner, from which he/she cannot escape without effort, indisposition and possible annoyance. Chose your questions in a fashion that any possible answer from the customer will lead to the continuation of the discussion. Avoid any areas where a competence quarrel and the possible loss of face could arise. 03/10