At the Table: How to Deal With Mom and Distractions

August 11, 2008
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Sharon Roberts

It’s bedlam! The kids are romping, some laughing, some crying, and the dog is barking its head off. The mom, smack in the middle of this chaos, is your client. Now how in the world are you going to be able to have a coherent and productive conversation with this distracted woman to provide top-quality comfort for her and her family? For goodness sakes, it’s impossible for her to stay focused for five consecutive seconds.

This chaotic multi-tasking scenario has been repeatedly described to me the past several weeks while traveling and presenting my “Selling to Women & Couples” seminar. And, no wonder: Summer vacation has been in full swing.

The above scenario, though stressful to both men and women, tends to be far more stressful and challenging for salesmen than saleswomen. There is brain science to explain why this is so, which I will describe in a bit. Busy mothers have also been more than happy to generously share their thoughts and suggestions for what you can do to make this discussion less stressful and ultimately successful for both of you. And, salespeople have also shared their tried-and-true suggestions to be successful when selling to women with children.

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE A BUSY MOM

Busy moms with children running about say to you, “Welcome to my world. Needy kids, dogs, and all, this is my noisy normal. If it gets peaceful and calm around here, that is distracting. That spells big trouble in my world.”

Do not underestimate this busy mom. She can, and does, make big-time decisions about who will and who won’t be installing her family’s home comfort system.

First and foremost, women notice and they care how comfortable you are to interact with them and their children. If you’re comfortable, they’ll be comfortable.

Keep in mind that women have more of the powerful bonding chemical, oxytocin, at work in their brains and it drives them to connect with you. Relax. Greet the children and the pets. Many salespeople provide gifts for the children: coloring books and washable crayons, puzzles, plastic slinkies, and such. And, of course, you don’t want to leave out Fido and Fluffy, so have dog and cat treats handy. But, always ask permission before you begin doling out toys or treats. When you sincerely engage with her and her children, her oxytocin will continue rising as her trust continues to build.

The challenge, many salesmen tell me, is that they simply cannot think straight with all the commotion and distractions with children. Since they cannot focus and think straight under these conditions, they don’t believe for a second that the woman can either. Therefore, in their opinion, the call is a complete waste of time. But, it needn’t be a waste unless your aggravation and frustration make it so.

Since you’ve read this far, you’re likely ready and willing to learn how to make calls with women and children some of your most pleasant and profitable calls.

RESEARCH SAYS

Brain research tells us it is highly likely that women can have a discussion with you even with chattering children around. Dr. Marcel Just, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University, conducted research in 2006 and found that twice as often as males, females were able to listen to two distinct voices and accurately answer questions about the content of the spoken messages.

The men in my audiences will heartily testify that this is so. That’s great for her, but if you happen to be one of those people who can’t listen to two conversations at once, there is still hope for you.

Here’s the recipe for success.

First, the goal is to get yourself relaxed and your brain into that wonderful concert state that results in a sharp, clear mind. You can do that by controlling your heart rate, which you do by controlling your breathing. Try this breathing technique:

1. Place your fingers 2 inches below your belly button. (That’s right, you should skip this step when you’re with your client.)

2. Inhale deeply and your belly will expand as though blowing up a balloon.

3. Exhale fully and your belly will collapse.

Breathe deeply, no more than six or seven breaths in a minute. I promise you when you control your breathing, you will slow your heart rate and you will be able to relax and focus on your client.

It’s also a good idea to limit caffeine. Caffeine decreases blood flow to your brain and will limit your memory and concentration. That surely can’t be good for business.

UNCLUTTERED VISUALS NEEDED

Now to help you and the client stay on track, use sharp, uncluttered visuals. The purpose of visuals of any kind, whether print or video, are to:

• support and expand the content of your message;

• focus the client’s attention on an important point; and

• clarify meaning.

Whether you have a flip book or a DVD, either way it’s easy to keep your place and refocus when the client returns. Some salesmen report that it can also be quite rattling that some women make intense, unwavering eye contact when they’ve been distracted and then return to the table.

That comment invariably makes women laugh out loud. They are quick to explain the reason they do that is to stay focused.

Be sure you have excellent visuals. Engage with her and answer her questions and concerns every step of the way, before and after the interruptions.

Women and men listen differently and it’s a difference worth understanding if you are serious about growing sales. Please know that a “neutral” facial expression looks to her like not listening, don’t care, or shut up - and that is very bad for business. So go ahead, smile, pause, breathe really deeply, and greet the children and the pets.

Just never forget this business building fact: Women do not gossip, they advertise!

Publication date: 08/11/2008

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