Special Guest Blog By Jaime T. Surenkamp
January 30, 2013
Welcome to February, the season of love and of listening to your heart!
Listening to our hearts can lead us in beautiful directions, but leading with our hearts when it comes to activism is not always the best way to effect change. Selling, on the other hand, is all about persuading or influencing an individual to change or take a course of action. And, that’s our goal — to create change — so we’re all going to take a mini crash course in sales!
As compassionate salespeople, we should see every interaction as an opportunity to sell someone on a healthier lifestyle and new way of looking at animals. Our “product” is a lifestyle of compassionate choices that lead to better health, a better planet, and a better life for all animals.
If you are new to sales, I’d like to introduce you to a long-standing technique — the Feel, Felt, Found approach. This sales approach can be highly effective in our conversations about animal rights and veganism.
As illustrated in Nick Cooney’s book Change of Heart, studies show that people are more likely to make a change when they empathize with others who have experienced a similar change or challenge.
The Feel, Felt, Found approach opens the door for that empathy.
Second, you assure them that they are not the only person to have felt this way. Many others have faced similar same challenges, so they are not alone in their thoughts. This is a powerful approach. Again, as illustrated in Nick’s book, people statistically are more likely to make a change based on their knowledge of what others are doing. Validating that someone is not alone in his or her concerns is comforting and persuasive in your communication.
Third, alleviate their fears by letting them know what you and others have found.
Here’s an example. A common response to the idea of becoming vegan is, “I could never give up cheese. I love cheese.” Here is the Feel, Felt, Found response:
I definitely understand how you feel. I felt that way, too. I was a big cheese and Greek yogurt fan myself. Lots of other people have felt that way too — it’s probably the number one concern when people consider adopting a vegan diet. What I found is that I don’t really miss cheese at all. And these days, there are so many good plant-based cheese options that it’s really easy to have a cheese pizza or cheesy lasagna that’s delicious.
I always try to express excitement about my experience as a vegan. This is actually pretty easy because I have found so many things to be excited about. But I digress.
Use the “found” comment as an opportunity to key into whatever you know about the person you are talking to. If they are analytical types, your “found” statement might sound something like this:
What many people have found is that you lose your craving for dairy altogether because dairy is addictive. Dairy has a protein called casein, which, when broken down in digestion, can act like an opiate, meaning it has a calming effect. This is helpful for a baby calf, for example, because it creates a calming effect and promotes bonding with his mother. Mother Nature is smart: She knows that a calf needs to nurse to grow, so this addictive effect will keep the calf coming back for more. But humans drinking cows’ milk can feel that same calming, addictive effect. Once you’ve removed dairy from your diet, you remove the addiction. Not only will you not crave cheese, milk, or any other dairy, but I found that my skin got clearer and my energy level increased.
Use your best judgment on how to frame the conversation, but you get the drift.
Whatever response you choose, always give the person you are talking with an opportunity to digest what you’ve said and to respond with their thoughts. This is another key ingredient to being a good salesperson — remember when to be quiet and try to talk less, not more, than the person you are speaking with.
Practice the Feel, Felt, Found approach in other aspects of your life so that it becomes natural in your vocabulary. This approach is more than a sales technique; it’s also a useful framework for many interactions in life. When we are discussing being vegan, our non-vegan friends or family can feel threatened or judged, and that can result in combative discussions. By using the Feel, Felt, Found approach, you stay grounded in the conversation and can maintain a non-confrontational exchange of thoughts.
And, on that topic, we shouldn’t ever judge others. We all have non-vegan friends and family who are kind, caring, and loving. It’s important to understand that each of us is on his or her own journey. Not everyone you speak with will be receptive to you, and not everyone you talk with will change. That is not our choice to make. However, being a compassionate advocate, providing information when engaged with someone, and offering help without judgment is one of the best things we can do to be a voice for animals.
So, happy compassionate selling!
Jaime T. Surenkamp is the founder of VeniceBeachVegan and is a compassionate, passionate advocate for animals.
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