A few years back I was presenting a seminar to about 150 people in Alice Springs, a desert city in the middle of Australia. The crowd was very warm and welcoming and whilst I did my thing and spoke about the way to build a dynamic business I noticed one man at the front of the room who could barely contain himself. I assumed he was a little unusual and possibly a bit eccentric simply because he was wearing a tattered pair of shorts, a smelly old singlet and he was barefoot – non of which is considered normal attire even in Alice Springs.
Now I made a number of assumptions about this man simply by looking at him. I assumed that we was a bit strange, that he had no money, that he may even have been mentally challenged in some way. Subconsciously I probably made another 100 assumptions about this man.
We all do it. I have read and spoken to various authorities, stating that we form an opinion of a person in a matter of seconds, sometimes its right and sometimes it is completely wrong.
At the end of the seminar this funny man came over and started to chew my ear off. He was nice enough, but I didn’t really know what he wanted or what he did. We had a pleasant chat, he seemed satisfied and he wandered off, to my relief.
A little later the event organiser came up to me and we were having a debrief on the night. I had a bit of a chuckle as I told her about the strange little man and she told me he was the richest man in Alice Springs. He was worth tens of millions of dollars and he was a self-made property developer.
I have experienced this same thing many times in my life. Looks can be deceiving and when it comes to selling anything, judging people based on their looks can be a sales disaster. I would go one step further and say that often the people we think are the wealthiest, based on what they are wearing or driving, are often just the people with the most debt.
A smart sales person will overcome their initial and instinctual desire to judge a person and put them in a pigeon hole (ie they are rich, they are poor, they are a time waster, they will never buy this). They will look well beyond this and treat everyone exactly the same and that is what will make them different.
I spend a lot of time dressed in suits and travelling. On the weekend or if I am having a day off in a city I like to dress down. I know for a fact that when I walk into most shops, wearing an expensive suit, I get served almost immediately and I am generally lavishly looked after by the sale people. But if I turn up in a pair of jeans and t-shirt the level of service is completely different. Most of the time I am ignored, even though the amount of money in my bank account is exactly the same.
Break the habit of judging a person by their appearance and treat everyone as equal. Do this and you will sell more of anything to anyone. As a beautiful by product, you will get to meet and connect with some truly spectacular people whom you may have previously written off.