“Recognize that every interaction with others is an opportunity to sell safety!”Denis Baker
As I close out this series on selling safety, there are two more topics that I want to highlight. Firstly, is the topic of safety in every conversation sells safety (this blog’s focus) and also integrating the idea of selling safety in everything we do. There is a lot of confusion and common misunderstanding about what it means to sell safety.
Allow me to clarify my approach to selling safety. Most employees and those in leadership positions can fully embrace and even promote the idea of a safe work environment. However, complying with regulations, providing the necessary PPE, and taking time to train people costs money, resulting in decreased motivation to uphold safety standards. Often times, the link between regulations and safety is overshadowed by a drive to increase production within the company.
SAFETY COSTS MONEY!
As safety professionals, embrace the reality that safety costs the company money instead of generating it. Therefore, work diligently to sell your ideas about safety. We accomplished this through the message that a strong safety culture has direct benefits to each individual.
People often do a good job of selling their ideas but forget an essential step, to close the deal. I like the acronym used in the sales profession, ABC that stands for always be closing. People who haven’t been adequately trained in sales misuse this notion. Safety professionals typically tend to “close” the deal by establishing an environment of disciplinary action or non-compliance. If this is your approach, YOU ARE WRONG!!!
PRESSURE – NO BUENO
In an attempt to get a buy-in during leadership meetings, actively integrate benefits for the company, production, and workforce. Don’t be annoying, but learn how to sell your thoughts through the use of words. Not to add pressure, but the words you use significantly impact evaluation of safety and its importance within the company.
Strive to have the mindset of always be closing in every interaction. Don’t take this notion and misuse it by putting pressure on others or trying to force an outcome. The misuse of always be closing mimics that of a high-pressure sales tactic. A used car salesperson, the snake oil salesperson, the door-to-door salesperson are examples of when the buyer senses pressure. Be genuine in your approach, and people will naturally warm up to the ideas presented.
High pressure moves influence to manipulation!
Most of my previous blogs highlight the idea that sales mirror the buying process. In my sales training, I’ve learned two methods unfold simultaneously. Each party is jointly discovering something about the other party:
1. The seller (you) is identifying: needs, wants, desires, problems, issues, etc
2. The buyer (your prospect) is discovering:
a. The needs, wants, and desires (through probing questions and answers) AND
b. What you offer to help them (what you bring to the table).
Selling safety is not about high-pressure or forceful manipulation of your ideas. Instead, it is a set of conversations and interactions where we (the seller) are trying to persuade the buyer (workforce, leadership) through influential discussions. Although apprehension may exist, the setting should be a comfortable one for both. There should be excitement, enthusiasm, and motivation to do the right thing.
To achieve success in selling safety, we must think about how we close the deal. Essentially meaning, how do we achieve safe behaviors?
Always Be Closing is something you should integrate into every interaction. Be on the lookout for signals that indicate you are making progress. Indications include the following:
- Asking questions
- Showing or expressing interest
- Taking notes
- Questioning the process
THE CLOSING CONVERSATION
How do you achieve a productive closing conversation? Consider obvious parts of a conversation:
1. The opening (a greeting)
2. The middle
3. The later part
4. And the end (a farewell)
The closing at the end of the conversation should not be filled with manipulation. I strongly encourage you to integrate selling safety into every conversation because the “buy-in” can happen at any point. It might be delivered early in the discussion or built up through multiple conversations. You may be challenged, questioned, or even rejected. More often than not, it is just a reflection of the prospect’s excitement and interest.
If and when they happen to “see the light,” they will invite you to move the conversation forward (e.g., ask, “Would you like to hear more?” or “How would you like to proceed?”
Throughout my Maxwell sales training, I learned that a sales conversation doesn’t have to go in sequence. The art of sales is not a linear process. Sometimes it can take a long time; other times, it can be a speedy process. You must be ready to move forward whenever the “sell” occurs. Any delay can easily create “buyers remorse.” Above all, consider how the prospect behaves towards you; the focus of your attention should be on the prospective buyer and the signals they present.
Closing is a natural extension of a mutual discovery process.
There are many closing sales techniques taught but KEEP IT SIMPLE. Below are three simple ways to close the deal:
1. Ask legitimate questions –. Information informs, but questions transform. At the right time, ask the right question. Does this address your concerns? How would you like to proceed?” A more guided way of asking is, “Are you interested more in (X) or (Y)?” Do not overpower the conversation in a manipulative manner intended to trick people or pressure them. Make it a legitimate question.
“The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer.” Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM
2. Be Honest – Share your excitement and why you look forward to the participation of the idea, thought, or expectation. Ask, “What do you think?” and address any concerns right away.
3. Be Flexible – When you achieve a mutual agreement, then restate critical points moving forward. As the process progresses, be flexible in your ability to modify the ultimate goal.
Go out, talk about your safety ideas in every conversation, and close the deal!
You can contact Denis at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.
Denis is an experienced Safety Professional with multi-industry experience. He is also an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical principles and relevant influencing techniques to change employee behaviors and ultimately reduce and eliminate injuries. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a passionate desire to become an effective leader.