Please Validate Me

April 1, 2008 at 1:18 am Leave a comment

Rubber StampIf you’ve ever sold in a city, you know the challenge of simple things like parking.  If you no longer pay your share of parking tickets or scramble to find ATM’s for “cash-only” lots, you’ve graduated to “insider” status, to an Indiana Jones of the concrete jungle. 

Insiders learn to scout their territory; they know when parking meters open and close, which garages take credit cards, and which buildings have unlocked restroom doors.   And if you’ve ascended to insider status, you yearn to hear the magic words, “Do you need a validation sticker?”  “Oh, do you guys have validations?” you say, with the kind of anxious hope one would experience from unwrapping the golden ticket in a Wonka Bar.

Why?  That little adhesive-backed stamp equates to at least twenty bucks of parking garage ransom.    Once you’re validated, your sticker acts like a sort of “all day pass,” allowing you to hunt anywhere in the nearby jungle before returning to your validated lot.  Etched into your memory are the names and faces of any validator in your jungle. As you exit the garage, you gladly hand over the ticket with anticipation of watching the $20.00 fee come up and the word “PAID” illuminate from the L.E.D. readout as the gate rises to let you through.  Ah, yes…the rewards of validation.

Validation stickers for parking garages are a rare commodity.  Validation in the world of sales and customer service is, unfortunately, on the endangered species list.  Sometimes those of us on the selling side can’t understand why we didn’t connect with a buyer.  We can’t figure out what went wrong.  Consider – failure to validate. To appreciate validation is to experience its absence.  This week alone, my wife and I dealt with several ongoing service and billing issues.

Consider your reaction to the following two responses after eight months of incorrect billing:  “I see a ticket’s already in.  It looks like they are working on it.  Is there anything else I can help you with?”

versus

“I see.  Looking at your account I can see you’ve called in several times about this.  Please accept my apologies for still needing to deal with this issue.  This isn’t how we intend to treat our customers and it must be frustrating.  Let me see if I can get an answer as to why this keeps recurring so we can finally get to the bottom of this and you won’t have to spend your time following up on the same issue.  Will that be ok?” Can you feel the difference?  How do your emotions evolve when you sense the person on the other side understands you?  As sellers, we can either blow air into the balloon until it’s about to burst or deflate the balloon allowing the pressure to escape.  It’s such a simple concept, yet so often bypassed.In my Trust Centered Selling sales training course, participants act out a role play that gives the seller a “a pleasant surprise” if they acknowledge the buyer’s feelings.  It’s amazing how many sellers get right down in the trenches, roll up their sleeves and defend their position.  In turn, the buyers get their backs up and win/lose negotiations ensue.

People just want to feel validated.  So, if you ever wonder why the appointment went south or the customer didn’t return your calls, ask yourself if you have validated them.

For goodness sakes, give away your stickers.

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