According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, approximately 14.8 million people were employed in the retail industry, which adds up to nearly 10 percent of the US labor force.
Cashiers and sales people were the most common position in the economy, representing approximately 6 percent of the work force.
This doesn't even include other sales positions, like bankers and car salespeople.
In other words, we live in a world where selling is second nature to us and the principles of doing it proficiently can be applied to real life situations.
In the sales world, you are coached around many universal skills that ultimately create the best experience possible for the customer while still being profitable for the business.
As a sales individual, we consciously break down customer interactions using a combination of body language and conversation techniques.
Rather than presenting a product, present a solution.
In dating, many might say this equivalent is that of proposing a relationship or at least, something more than a one-night stand. In my opinion, the one-night stand is still a relationship — it’s just an empty one.
To that end, in the sales industry we would call it an “empty basket,” which is where the customer purchased the product, but didn’t want anything else to go with it. Similar to a one-night stand, there was "no attachment."
Social interaction, specifically dating, can be approached the same way as a customer interaction, albeit at a more inconsistent pace. With a good quality sale, the entire interaction can easily be done within 15 minutes.
Successfully going through the same selling techniques in building an intimate relationship can take anywhere from five minutes to several months, depending on what kind of approach you take.
Nevertheless, whether you're playing a long game or gunning for short-term gratification, the similarities between selling behaviors and social interaction can be easily seen.
As an example, many of my friends might try to call themselves “pick-up artists,” or, in other words, "quick-sell artists."
I use this term lightly because personally, I don’t think it really exists like it may have at one point in time, but to each their own.
Here’s an example of steps of a sale through a customer interaction and how it resonates with dating, too:
Welcome And Open The Sale:
Introduce yourself. This is where you set the tone and begin to build trust.
In a good sale, we never ask you to buy the product right away. We build an initial relationship to put your mind at ease.
There aren’t any hidden intentions here, (or at least, there shouldn’t be), except to establish groundwork on who we are and move onto the next step.
In fact, the intentions should be clear: I want to know you better, but I understand I need to build trust before you'll tell me anything.
Ask Questions To Understand:
In a good conversation, you should be able to recognize when to ask an open-ended question and when to ask a close-ended one. Open-ended questions are an opportunity to show you care and that you are legitimately interested in what the person has to say.
With close-ended questions, you should already know the answer, but ultimately, they help you steer the conversation while giving the person in front of you the wheel.
Similarly to sales, we should apply the rule of listen more, talk less. People are very grateful to someone who will listen. Take advantage of these moments because down the road, getting your partner to open up with you can get far more complicated.
Everyone is different, which means people have different tastes in terms of what will “impress” them.
Hopefully after the asking questions part, you'll have a better idea of what that is.
Use this knowledge to leverage the conversation and the time spent with the person in conjunction with your personal skills to appeal to the individual.
Sell The Solution:
That’s you, and it’s time to ask for the sale. Effective closers don’t really give the option of “no.” They assume the sale and if there’s an objection, they overcome it.
In a very strategic and delicate manner, basically ask the question: Is it me or is it the situation? If it’s me, then okay, it is what it is. If it’s the situation, what can we do to make it better for both of us?
After the interaction, thank the other person for his or her time. Personalize it with something that was discussed in the conversation or the time you two shared.
For instance, “Hey, it was nice having coffee with you and getting to talk about school with you.” Then, connect it back for a future meet-up: “I look forward to seeing you again, and grabbing a drink.”
Ultimately, the biggest flaw of this analogy is that building a relationship or trying to date someone isn’t truly a sale. It’s should be treated as a two-way street.
If it is an interaction where you’re trying to sell yourself more than you are trying to build an equal relationship, then it becomes unbalanced because you’re not treating yourself as well as you should.
During a one-on-one interaction with someone who is potentially a romantic interest, time should be invested in learning if he or she is the appropriate partner for you and vice versa.
The second we spend more time “selling ourselves,” so to speak, we begin to sell ourselves short.
Still, it’s interesting to recognize these behaviors in human interaction.
While we should always focus doing what’s best for our well-being and for those around us, we can still consciously apply a lot of the so-called selling skills to ensure a higher rate of success.