By Hamish Knox
If you’re like most salespeople, you don’t know how to network effectively. Usually you’ll wing it, improvise, or spend time with colleagues or clients you know really well instead of engaging prospects.
When Iask, “why you don’t approach prospects at networking events?”, I’d get a lot of “I don’t knows.”What you don’t know, or don’t even realize, is your problem is mom.Specifically in influence the messages mom drilled into your head in your first six years like:
- Don’t talk to strangers
- Be seen and not heard
- What would you say if you did talk to them?
Now as an adult these messages that were ingrained in you at an early age are holding you back from networking effectively.
Imagine this scenario. You’re at a networking event. Across the room you see the key decision maker at your biggest prospect picking at a plate of appetizers. Aside from them, their table is empty. You work up the guts to approach them, but as you make your move mom’s face pops up in between you and your prospect and says, “don’t’ talk to strangers.” Obeying mom’s command, you divert your path away from that key decision maker and your biggest prospect and miss out on an opportunity to start building a relationship with them.
The reason mom’s messages hold such a sway on us is found in the transactional analysis theory of psychology, on which David Sandler based the Sandler Selling System (SM).
The short version of transactional analysis is we all have three tape recorders inside of us:
- Parent – all of the messages we received from 0-6 years from our parents and other authority figures. At six this tape turns off and can never be erased, but it lives with us for the rest of our life.
- Adult – turns on at 10 months, right around the time we start crawling, and runs for the rest of our life. The Adult is a computer with the potential to control Parent and Child messages.
- Child – all of your emotional reactions to the messages recorded in your Parent from 0-6 years. Like the Parent recorder, your Child tape turns off at six and can never be erased and it also lives with us for the rest of our life.
Mom’s infallible wisdom is preventing you from networking effectively because her messages stored in your “Parent” tape are overriding your analytical “Adult” computer.
Now that you know about your Parent, Adult and Child tapes, you can use your Adult to turn off, or at least temporarily suppress, mom’s messages about not talking to strangers and being seen and not being heard, but what about her messages about what to say?
There’s a cliché that people love to talk about themselves, but like all clichés it becomes a cliché because there is truth to it.David Sandler, who’s openly admitted that he has had lots of messages in his Parent tape that he had to overcome to network effectively, would ask this simple question of the people he met at a networking event; “what part of the business world do you control?”
A very powerful question indeed.
Imagine asking the question to the Executive Assistant to the President of your biggest prospect. She controls a pretty important part of your business world!After you open with, “what part of the business world do you control?,” you’re officially over the stranger-danger hump so mom can take aback seat for a while… but your mom will come back; she always does.
Hamish Knox is a Sandler Trainer in Calgary, Alberta
Illustration by Rob Green