Because employees are motivated by many of the same considerations as supervisors, winning their cooperation frequently requires giving them what you yourself want.
For example, do you appreciate praise and recognition of your achievements? Why not give it?
Do you prefer a clear-cut work assignment? If you like to know exactly what you are expected to do, why not issue assignments in the same clear manner?
Do you like to understand the “why” of what you are doing? Then you may safely assume that it boosts an employee’s interest and will to cooperate when you explain the purpose of their part of the job and where it fits into the total picture.
Do you like an attentive listener? When you have something to say, you like someone to stand still and really listen to your suggestion or complaint about the job. So do your people.
Do you like consistent and well thought out management policies? Nothing is as demoralizing as poorly planned policies that head in one direction today and in another tomorrow. Examine your policies toward your people in this light.
Do you resent being criticized in front of others? A certain amount of constructive criticism is often necessary, but it should be delivered in private.
Finally, do you like to work for someone you respect? It brings out the best in most people. Everyone likes to feel that the boss knows their job and is giving their best to it every day.
It may not be an infallible rule, but in nine cases out of ten, you won’t go far wrong when trying to win employees’ cooperation if you simply ask yourself, “What would I want if I were in their shoes?”
When Introducing Change, Anticipate Objections
From long experience, a good salesperson knows what the most common objections are to their product—and the most effective answers to them.
The price is too high? The product will last longer than the competition’s, thus actually costing you less in the long run.
You can’t afford it now? Use the easy payment plan.
It’s too large? How about the smaller model?
Similarly, the effective supervisor prepares themselves for objections to what they are “selling.”
Most frequently, the need for this “sales” technique will arise when you are trying to put across some change in procedure, because employees—like everyone else—are the willing victims of inertia. They feel most comfortable with things-as-they-are because they are used to them. If someone comes along and threatens to rock the boat, they tend to view that someone with suspicion and distrust.
As a person with a new idea or method, you are the bearer of precisely what employees are conditioned to resist—change. Their defenses automatically go up as they prepare to do battle for the status quo.
Most often, these defenses take the form of objections—one or more reasons for not accepting the change you are advocating: “It’s too impractical.” “The old way was better.” “It would upset our routine.” “Too risky.”
But you can largely neutralize such arguments by anticipating—and answering—them in advance. In effect, you disarm your listener with reasons for ignoring or discounting the objections that would normally occur to them.
You do this by consciously and diligently examining the change you want to institute for flaws beforehand.
Does it require any knowledge or training that your employee does not now possess? Would it require more employees? Has it been tested for bugs? Has anything similar to it failed in the past? Is there any good reason why it shouldn’t work?
By asking—and answering—pointed questions like these yourself, before you approach your people with the change you have in mind, you can probe it for weaknesses, modify it accordingly and strengthen it until it is virtually “objection-proof.”
“True, you’ll have to unlearn some of the operating procedures you have been using, but the new machine’s feed system will make it safer for you to use and reduce the number of steps involved in the job.”
“It may take you a few more minutes to get to the new location, but the parking facilities are a lot better there and the building has an employee recreation room that makes the old one look sick.”
By raising the objections to the change yourself and answering them convincingly, you leave the employees little choice: they can not help but agree with you.
When You Must Give an Unpleasant Assignment
Sometimes there is no escape: you must hand out an assignment that is boring, tedious or undesirable in some way. Predictably, the individual on the receiving end is not going to be happy about it. Yet, the job has to get done. What to do?
Don’t call a thorn a rose. People aren’t stupid. If the job is messy, boring or time consuming, don’t claim that it’s clean, exciting or can be done in a jiffy. Preface the assignment with something like, “This is your lucky day” when it clearly is not, and you risk losing an employee’s respect as well as his cooperation.
Be fair. Unless there is a very special reason to break the rule, make sure that the less desirable jobs are rotated democratically among your people. No one wants to be viewed as a patsy who can be relied on to bite the bullet and dig into an unpleasant job every time. On the other hand, if your people see that everyone is carrying the same load of undesirable work, they are much more likely to grin and bear it.
Don’t apologize. Not every assignment can be challenging or interesting; there is a certain amount of routine in every aspect of life. So don’t hem or haw about a less-than-wonderful assignment. You can be sympathetic, but be realistic, too. A businesslike attitude will win your people’s confidence and, in the long run, make your own life less stressful.
Ways to Prove Your Price is Right
“Your price is out of line.”
“Way over our budget.”
Despite your conscientiousness as a salesperson, the depth of your product knowledge, or the lengths to which you may go to determine a prospect’s needs, one hard fact remains: more sales interviews fold when price is made the issue than for any other reason. What can you say—what can you do—to get the prospect’s mind off cost?
Remind prospects that they get what they pay for. “We’ve been in business for 40 years. If there were any legitimate ways to cut corners without also reducing quality, we’d know how. We have no quarrel with the seller with lower prices. They knows better than anyone else what their product is worth.”
“You can’t compare it with any other product—there’s nothing else like it.” Your product is patented or made by an exclusive process or offers unique benefits. The bigger the difference you establish between your product and others, the smaller the room for price comparisons.
Name other buyers respected by your prospect who are paying the price you are quoting. If necessary, offer to show copies of invoices or other proofs. Convince the buyer that other customers are not getting special price considerations.
Sell the “differential.” One of the easiest ways to minimize your product’s price tag and maximize its value, according to a department store executive, is to sell its price differential instead of its total cost.
“For example,” he explains, “if someone comes into this store to buy a $75 watch, we try to interest them in a $100 watch by pointing out that for only $25 more they can own a really fine timepiece. They are already sold on the first $75 of the purchase price before we even see them. It’s not too tough to make a $25 sale.”
“Prices are going up...so better protect yourself by acting now.” Impending increases give you powerful, automatic proof that the present price is fair and even low. By helping your customer get in under the wire, you prove your eagerness to protect their interest. Caution: don’t bluff about price increases; your customer won’t be fooled twice.