I used to be somebody. It’s hard to believe now that I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom and wife and my responsibilities include picking play dough out of the carpet, mediating toy ownership disputes, and wiping 75% of my household’s noses and bottoms. (It’s true. I did the math.)
As mentioned here, I was once a top salesman in an international Forbes 500 company that was ranked #1 in “Best Companies to Sell For” by Selling Power Magazine. I have a box of trophies, plaques, awards, accolades and thank you notes from Directors, Vice Presidents, Customers and even the CEO and President of the Company.
Ahhh… That was fun just reliving that for a second. Thank you.
My husband and I made the predecision that I would be a stay-at-home mom when we had kids. So that’s what I did. I walked away from a lucrative, profitable career while hearing the collective, “What on earth are you doing?!” from colleagues and higher-ups alike.
I thought I was leaving my sales career and training behind me.
Boy was I wrong.
I have never needed my sales training more than I need it now as a mom to two toddlers.
Only for you in this limited time offer, I am going to condense years of sales training down to the top 9 ways it relates to parenthood:
1.) Smile – Studies at Yale University show that the most important thing in determining whether you impress others favorably is how often you smile. Nothing else carries as much weight. Sales people are never permitted to have a bad day in front of the customer. Sincere smiles convey reliability and relatability to the customer. But how often do we employ this same tactic at home?
Our children need to be constantly reaffirmed, and it’s easy to forget to just be nice to your own family.
Sometimes we save our best manners for people we care the least about.
Even on the hardest days, smile at your kids – be nice. On the days when it feels like I’m constantly reprimanding the kids, I hunt for ways to build them up.
2.) Communicate the Process – When opening a sales presentation, I would communicate exactly what would happen: “Today, I’m going to perform a quick needs assessment, tell you a bit about my company and present you with options that will best suit your business needs.” This eliminates mystery in the mind of the prospect: “How long is this going to take?” “What do you want from me?”
This same type of communication with small kids is gold! Take my daughter. Bedtime has always been a bit brutal. She wants me or my husband to stay in the room with her until she falls asleep. Every night. Yikes. After deciding this had gone on long enough, I put her to bed one night. She whined, “Stay with me! Snuggle me!” I said, “I can’t, honey. But what I will do is give you lots of kisses on your face and then give you a big hug and tuck in your covers. Then, I’ll leave the door open and you’ll go to sleep.” She said, “Alright.” I did exactly what I said I would and then she quietly went to sleep on her own. I was dumbfounded. Why hadn’t I tried this earlier?! So now, I over-educate my kids on all processes – especially ones where it may be unpleasant.
When kids don’t know what to expect, it leads to anxiety and emotional drama. Taking the mystery out of the equation gives them peace of mind.
3.) Present a “False Choice” – One of the classic ways to close a sale is to assume the sale by presenting a “false choice.” For example, “Would you like the product in blue or black?” Or “Would you like to start with 100 cases or 250?” It’s a false choice because there are other choices (like saying “no.” Shhh… don’t tell customers) but we are acting as though this is the only choice.
This practice has been a godsend with strong-willed toddlers. It’s a fight to get dressed, come in from playing, eating healthy – whatever. So my “trick” is a false choice: Bathtime – “Do you want a bubble bath or a glow bath?” Dressing – “Do you want the white coat or the black one?” You name it – I give false choices all day long. It gives the kids a feeling of control and it eliminates the emotional drama for you. Even when it comes to discipline, “You can either sit down at the table now, or you can sit down at the table after a spanking. Your call.” (Don’t do this one with customers.)
4.) Never Take “No” for an Answer – In sales, you are persistent when rejection comes your way. Good professionals get to the root of the rejection to better understand “why” the customer won’t buy. Then overcome the objection with a solution. Example, Customer: “Not today thanks. It’s too expensive.” Sales professional isolates the objection: “Is that the only reason why you won’t buy today? What about the program is too expensive?” Then, offer them a discount or better educate them on how your product will save them money.
Now little kids are not logical beings. Shocker, I know. You can’t really do that. However, when it comes to standards and expectations and rules, parents never take “no” for an answer. You either conform to the standard or you accept the consequences to your actions. My friend once said, “If it won’t be cute at 13 years old, it’s not cute at 3 years old.”
Accepting it when my kids say “no” to me today may be easy, but consequences down the road mean it will only be harder to enforce good behavior later.
5.) Stay Positive – Harvard Business Review concluded from hundreds of studies that a positive attitude will increase sales by 37%. People don’t buy from depressed sales people. No matter if you’ve had the door slammed in your face, been cussed at, or lost a massive deal to a competitor – when you interact with prospects, they need to believe you are having the best day ever.
Every morning, I have to fill up with encouragement and inspiration before the kids are awake so they get a mommy who is excited about the day ahead. Even though the day is fraught with messes, meltdowns, and monotony – a positive attitude keeps you fueled to not just “survive” but to find and celebrate the tiny miracles that happen every day. The toy that was shared. The hugs between siblings. The laughter. And the best part – it’s contagious. After all, if mamma’s happy – everyone’s happy, right?
Sometimes, this requires me to give myself several “pep talks” in a day. I remind myself that no one is better at this job than me, and that I wouldn’t trade my messy house full of beautiful kids for a clean, lonely house
6.) Crafty Negotiations: Never Give Without Receiving – Any sales professional has some allowance for negotiation, but the cardinal rule is to never give something away unless you get something in return. When you give a customer a better deal, you need to ask for something from them in return; referrals, longer contract terms, or additional product lines.
This isn’t one hard and fast rule at home – because I don’t want my kids to feel like they have to earn everything. However, I use this frequently when they ask for something I am perfectly willing to give them, but need something in return. Example: Toddler wakes up from nap and wants candy. Me: “Absolutely. Just clean up your room first.” It’s a win-win. I get a cleaned room. They get their candy. It also puts them in control of getting what they want by completing an age-appropriate chore.
7.) They have to buy YOU before they buy FROM you – The old adage “They won’t care unless they know how much you care” is a key to success in sales. It’s no mistake that the first part of any sales meeting is called “rapport building” – meaning, you spend time getting to know the customer, their business, their needs and wants before you talk about your product or service.
Being a good parent means investing in the relationship. Doing things the kids enjoy that convey how much you love them. (I expand more on that here.). Purdue University research concluded that healthy relationships have five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. The secret every parent knows is that – although you may fill your home with toys, you will be your kids’ favorite thing to play with. So, even after a long day, I will chase my freshly-bathed naked toddler around for a tickle attack because it tells them I love them. When my kids know how much I care, they are more likely to be cheerfully obedient. (People, this isn’t a guarantee, but it is a tip!)
8.) Get Used to Rejection – Typically, you get seven “no’s” before you get one “yes.” In sales, every time I was hung up on or my proposal was rejected, I reminded myself that statistically, I was closer to a yes.
These statistics don’t translate to parenthood, but the principle does. You are going to be rejected all the time. Your kisses. Your wants. Your food. Whatever. Seriously. Get used to it. It’s part of parenting. Regardless of these times, remember you are the most important and influential person in your child’s life.
They will hurt you, but your love and legacy in their life will far outlive you. So love them anyway.
9.) Be Persistently Consistent – Successful sales professionals will tell you consistency is the magic bean to growing a profitable career. Consistency with follow-through, pricing, branding, and disciplines. But let’s be real – consistency is just another word for mundane. In sales, I had the same presentations, conversations, proposals, and prospecting day after day. It was grueling.
Parenting is the same way. If someone transcribed everything I said on a daily basis, (shudder) they would probably find that I have the same conversations with my kids every single day – several times a day. Take for instance, the deceptively simple task of getting in a vehicle. “Hop up in here. No, lady, you’re on this side. Mister, you’re on that side. No, don’t run out in the street. Come here. Stop playing with the light. Just get in. No, sit in your chair. Not his chair. Your chair.” Every. Single. Time.
When it comes to behavioral standards and disciplines, we have to be consistent to be successful. The methods and the tactic will change and improve, but the standards should not. One of my Sales Mentors told me, “Ignored behavior is accepted behavior.” Setting the expectations, enforcing the standards, and being consistent about discipline give kids the feeling of security. There are no surprises – “Am I going to get mean mommy or nice mommy today?” They need to know there are boundaries and dinnertime is not the place to conduct scientific experiments on velocity vs. gravity. Consistency pays off.
THE PAYOFF: The thing I loved the most about sales was if you put in the time and were consistent about doing the right things, one day you get a phone call and land the big sale. A customer remembers your presentation, or separates from their current vendor, and suddenly you’re in! With parenting, that’s one of the things I love the most too. After months of struggle, potty training suddenly sticks. They start to share their toys. They tell the truth when they do something wrong.
And with parenting, you get to enjoy the payoff for the rest of your life.
It’s a pretty sweet gig.