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Do You Offer a Quitting Employee More Money to Stay and More of Your Questions for March

Like learning to recognize buying signals and whether to give good or bad news first.

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How do I recognize buying signals?

This is one of the hardest parts of being a salesperson. As much art as skill, it requires you foremost to listen, even as you get into the full swing of your presentation. Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer says the basic rule of thumb is that any question asked by the customer should be considered a buying signal, especially if money or credit is mentioned. These are some of the most important queries to be on the lookout for:

  • Wanting something repeated. “What was it you said about that?”
  • Scare stories or statements about bad experiences with previous purchases. “I heard monthly contacts are bad for your eyes.”
  • Questions about quality or guarantees. “How long does the money-back guarantee last?”
  • Questions about qualifications or service. “So, what is an optician exactly?” … “If I have any problems can I reach you on the phone?”
  • Asking about other customers. “Are many people buying this style?”
  • Buying noises. “I didn’t know that.”… “Oh really?”
  • Chicken questions. “Suppose I buy it and my daughter refuses to wear them?”

My best salesperson has just told me she is quitting to take another job. Should I try to woo her back with more money?

Money talks but it also sets bad precedents. If other staff find out there could be a stampede to your office with similar ultimatums. First, evaluate the position and figure what it would take to fill it with a good worker. Second, find out why she is really leaving. Money is rarely the main issue. Be careful what you say or promise, says sales trainer Dave Richardson, adding that in such situations bosses often react irrationally. If you give away too much to keep the salesperson you may well find yourself later resenting the individual. If nothing can be done, accept her decision and make plans to find a good replacement. The woman’s mind will probably be on her new job but ask her to help with the transition for the two weeks or so she’s still on your payroll. “After all, this is your best employee. They usually do things right,” says Richardson.

I have a keen, smart optician who is 24 but looks only 17. We’d like her to get more involved in the handoff but I think customers sometimes have trouble taking her seriously when she talks about their vision needs. Is there anything I can do to help?

Aside from suggesting she take up smoking, binge-drinking and serial sun-tanning, there’s probably not too much you can do to make her physically age. If she doesn’t already, suggest she dress professionally and conservatively. And if she’s in a situation where you think her youthful looks might be a factor, go over and introduce yourself as the senior staff member and give her a testimonial of sorts: “You’re in terrific hands. Jackie’s been with us four years now, got her opticianry license last year and really knows her stuff ….”

Do I give an employee the good or the bad news first?

If you’re like a lot of bosses, you probably try to lead with the good news to soften the blow. But according to Dan Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets Of Perfect Timing, the science is pretty clear: When people are on the receiving end of such news, four out of five prefer to get the bad news first. Why? Because given a choice, humans prefer endings that elevate. “We prefer rising sequences over declining sequences. We prefer endings with some uplift than endings that sag down,” Pink says. So, man/woman up. Deliver that hammer blow. And then offer some hope. “You’ll create a happy ending for yourself and everyone else,” says Pink.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at [email protected].

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