“Put that coffee down. Coffee is for closers only.”
Not in my house.
Coffee is for whoever needs it. Except the children. Coffee is not for the children.
My husband and I have this running joke about the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. First of all, he has actually seen it. I could barely stay focused watching a five-minute clip of Alec Baldwin swearing and talking about his $80,000 BMW. Honestly, I’d take the Hyundai. I’d be Blake’s worst nightmare. I’d be fired. But the funny thing (and what our joke revolves around) is that without all the swearing, that movie could be a page out of a Mother’s playbook. Let me explain.
ABC – Always Be Closing. In sales? Yes. Of course. It’s how you make money. It’s how you keep your job. But for the mom, we wake up closing. Attempting to get a young child dressed, fed and on track to get them anywhere on time or at all requires the art of the ABC’s. You must predict every move they will make, every detour they will take and every opportunity they have to go completely sideways on you. You have to be selling every second of the day.
“Oh, you don’t want to go to school today? Well, how in the world are we going to get that super cool show and share about the polar region to your class? You don’t want oatmeal for breakfast? But I have all these cool frozen berries you can put in it and watch them melt…and then your oatmeal will turn purple! Oh, you can’t find your shoes? Let’s sing that Bear Hunt song, but let’s sing it about your shoes.”
Always be closing.
Sell your NO – If there is one piece of sales advice that I tell my husband every day it is that he has to sell his “no.” Nobody wants to hear the word “no.” Especially children. You can’t just say “no” to a kid and expect them to smile at you, tilt their head in agreement and say “you’re right mom. I don’t really need anything else. I have enough. I don’t need to go to the park right this second, I can wait until you are finished with dinner and then wait until you have also fed yourself and had a nice chat with Father.” That just doesn’t happen. You have to sell that “no.” It usually looks something like this:
“Wow! The park sound like a great idea. We have so much fun there. What should we do when we get to the park? I like the swings. Let’s go on the swings after dinner.”
Sure it takes almost a hundred extra words, but you’re just not going to get good results unless you sell that “no.” I ask my husband if he likes to hear the word “no” from his customers and he looks at me and with a straight face, he says “no.”
Help me, help you! – Most of the time, kids are not looking for solutions. They do not want you to fix everything. Toys, yes. Torn pages in books, of course. But when they are acting out and putting you through the ringer, it’s best to step back and see what it is they actually need.
One evening while I was finishing up dinner, I heard my exasperated husband ask our five year-old “tell me a little bit about what you are looking for.” I started laughing because I have heard him say this to his customers. My husband knows that the relationship is the most important thing in closing business. The customer has to trust you and has to trust that what you are selling him is the best solution for his problem.
Your kids are your toughest customer and they have every objection in the book. When you back up a bit and ask what they need, you are engaging your child. You are having relationship with your child. Most of the time, they just want us to be still with them and enter whatever play world they have imagined up. Ask a couple of questions, have them tell you the rules of the game, dress up, whatever – but give them a chance to tell you what they need and for the love, LISTEN.
The Weird Clapping Thing – When all else fails, just go bananas. Sometimes, you have to resort to complete and utter nonsense to distract them. Weird clapping and dancing work, but so does laughter and humor. Some customers have just had a tough day. They don’t want another sales pitch and they don’t want another box of stale donuts (although I’ve never seen one turn that down). Lighten up the room with a smile and a laugh and then maybe if those don’t work, start handing out stale donuts.
Now where did I put that coffee…