The Problem(s) with I/My Statements
A rep recently wrote in with the following question:
'I've been taught to use I/My statements by my manager. I don't think they work. What's your opinion on them?'
I/My statements are a taught sales technique where a sales rep will attempt to connect with their client by offering similarities from their own life...as I've come to learn it.
To start, there's absolutely nothing wrong with contributing to a sales conversation as a salesperson, or finding opportunities to humanize yourself in the sales process. In fact, many of the best #sportsbiz salespeople will use stories to draw their clients back into the stadium...and the more the fan pictures themselves in the stadium, the more likely the sale will be.
That said, I do have some fundamental issues with the teaching and executing of I/My statements. Here are three of them...
The Mentality of It: This conversation needs to fundamentally be about the client. If you are taught to look for opportunities to use I/My statements, you are fundamentally pulling the conversation back to you...every chance you get. This type of sales mentality invariably leads to the moment where you kitchen sink the client because you don't have enough information.
The Clunkiness of It: I'm working on a project where I'm calling all the teams in big 5 leagues trying to see how they handle inbound leads. While I've seen many just take the order, one of the reps did a good job engaging me past my initial ask. Then he asked who I would be going with. I said my step-son. Then his training kicked in. 'I also went to sporting events with my father.' I cringed. At best? That makes me smile slightly. At worst? I genuinely don't care. This call is supposed to be about me! I could almost hear his training click in...and it was ugly.
The Myth of Rapport: The backbone of the I/My statement is to get our clients to like us. Or for us to 'build rapport' with them. That is not what our goal needs to be. Our goal needs to be to establish ourselves as an expert. The fantastic sales author Jack Vincent's quote needs to be our aim. He said, 'The one thing that mitigates risk is trust.' You gain trust by being an expert...not by being their friend. I have friends I trust...but I don't trust all my friends. And I wouldn't want to give money to a friend. I would give money to someone I trust. The I/My statement sets our aim WAY too low.
I believe stories can be a critical part of the sales process. Our stories about what our fans experience in the stadium, and the stories of the people we're selling to will put them back in the stadium. You'll notice that neither of those are stories about ourselves. We sell ourselves by being experts. We don't sell ourselves by telling stories about ourselves.
The quote on the right is by the incredible Dale Carnegie. Our job is to focus 100% on our clients and the value they'll get by being in our stadium. Anything off that focus, anything that pulls attention back to us, in my opinion, accomplishes very little. People love to talk about themselves. Feed that beast!