September 8, 2016 3:10 pm

Man Putting Fingers in Ears
“The problem with being in business for more than 40 years is that I know everything!” Indeed, this is a quote from a very foolish man.  A paternalistic man.  So what is paternalism in business?

Paternalism in business is knowing what is right for the customer, without actually listening to the customer. Listening is the key operative word here. We all need to learn how to listen better to the needs and desires of our customers. Listening is a skill. A very important skill!

When speaking with younger salesmen, I try to stress the need to ask good questions. I tell them they need to learn to be patient when speaking with customers, especially those answering your questions. This generation of millennials growing up on cell phones may be unprepared for the dynamics of face to face conversation.  New salesmen should start with the basics. The ancient art of trying to establish rapport in business is all about having the customer discuss his humanity before you jump into your spiel. Go to my blog, “Networking In 3D” to learn more about the ways to ask Personal, Inspirational and Aspirational questions.

Once we get into our area of expertise, however, even the more seasoned salesmen have a tendency to want to stop asking and just tell, tell, and tell. “Let me tell you how to”— “Let me tell you why this is the right way to”— well, you get the idea. We all want to tell our customers EVERYTHING that we know that might help them. We mean well of course, but sometimes we completely ignore the customers articulated needs and desires and substitute our own good opinions for what it is that they are telling us that they really need. I call this trend paternalism in business and we salesmen might be the most egregious offenders.

A great way to learn to develop and redevelop your listening muscles is to rekindle a child-like sense of curiosity. Be fascinated with everything your customers are doing and saying. Really focus on them and listening to them at every level. Look them in the eyes. Observe their posture.  Monitor their emotions. Then concentrate on the ways that you can help them. Truly empathize with their situation.

To overcome paternalism in business simply remember, it is all about them, not about you!  At Dickstein Real Estate Services “Our Difference is Your Advantage®”.

Lawrence Dickstein

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