Engaging People, a Natural Instinct?

What is it about a good sales person that makes you want to buy more? Why do some customer service representatives solve your problem but still leave you unsatisfied? How do your children know exactly what button to push?

At the end of the day, all of these questions can be answered the same way. A good sales person makes you feel special. A bad customer service representative didn’t make an emotional connection through the phone, or across the desk. Your children make it their job to know you best – after all, you are the keeper of all things special – that new video game, permission to drink a glass of soda, or say it isn’t so — giver of that embarrassing kiss good-bye in front of their friends.

Why do some people do a good job of making you want to be around them and others seem to have a force that projects you away. For answers to that I look at my own family. I have four boys, each with wonderful special talents, each totally different. With the same genetic inputs and home environment how come my 8 year old Derick has always had a special ability to make strangers fall in love with him? Whether it was another young boy from San Francisco who happened to stay at the same Mexican resort as our family on vacation last summer, or the bus driver who shuffles dozens of kids to school each day, Derick charms virtually everyone he meets on the first visit. Is he more confident than my other children — for the most part no. Does he have a better sense of humor? No, they all tell a great story and have funny one liners. Is he smarter, faster, more handsome? No, no and no. But he does have a type of radar for knowing what makes you feel special. He instinctively knows what question to ask that will engage you in a conversation that you care about.

I’ve found that my top performing sales colleagues share that same trait. They not only know who to spend time with, but how to make them engage. My most successful marketing campaigns have achieved the same – a dialogue.

While the skills are clearly natural for some people, can you learn to be a magnet for your target audience? If the answer is yes, there are a few people I’d like to put through “magnetism bootcamp” — a certain Comcast service representative, the last webcast moderator I sat painfully through and a grumpy crossing guard top my list.

What do you think?