By Kent Mulkey

A few weeks ago, I moved to a new house and for some odd reason hauled about 15 boxes of books with me. Don’t ask me why anyone would haul around over 600 lbs. of books! When I was unpacking, I came across the classic book on engaging with and selling to people, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

I consider myself an avid reader yet had somehow forgotten about the promise I made to myself years before to sit down and read it. Since you are reading Senior Living Foresight, my assumption is that you want to be the best salesperson and relationship builder possible.

Here’s what I have for you. A brief review of the section of Carnegie’s book called “Six Ways to Make People Like You.”

  1. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get others to be interested in you.” All of you want to be the best salesperson or front person for your community. Remember, people aren’t interested in you. They are interested in themselves! Perhaps this is where the idea of creative follow up originated – learn about people and express it in a tangible way.
  2. Smile! The most successful senior living salesperson I know has this nailed – she has a bright, genuine, and engaging smile. When we hired her, her smile is what won us over. Her qualifications were a distant second. Sure, selling to seniors is a serious and emotional process, but have some fun along the way. Enjoy people!
  3. I could tell you countless stories of people who misspell or mispronounce the name of a sales prospect or family member. Ouch! It’s acceptable to ask people how to spell and pronounce their name. Write it down. A person’s name is what identifies him/her. Back in high school I won a prestigious award for running. My name was misspelled on the certificate, which kind of bothers me all these years later. I know, get over it Kurt . . . I mean Kent!
  4. Before our world came to a standstill, I drove part-time for Uber. It was often that riders would comment on how easy it was to talk with me. One lady said I was a great “conversationalist”. What surprised me is that I barely said anything on those rides. I just asked questions and kept quiet. Just listen!
  5. Talk with people about what they are interested in. Here is the bottom line: you talk 20% of the time. Let them talk 80% of the time. Translation – your prospect gets about 80 minutes. You get 20. After the chit chat and asking questions, you get about 150 minutes to make a “presentation,” which is about all that you need. Ha!
  6. A smart person once said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” My daughter enjoyed a very successful high school and college running career. Recently she was inducted to a running hall of fame in Northern California. Of course, it was a special night, but here is the curveball she threw when it was her turn at the podium: she showed appreciation to her coaches, teammates, and mentors who helped get her there!

Don’t let these principles overwhelm you. Practice them with your teammates so you are ready to apply them when you can meet prospects face-to-face again.