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Sales Lessons From... My Parrot
By Helen Berman

Getting the upper hand with my mischievous, wily bird companion is a lot like gaining control of a sales call.

If you're up on your bird news, you might by now have heard of Alex, the African Grey parrot that's been taught not only to speak, but to add numbers, distinguish colors, and identify shapes. Of course, no one's determined yet whether Alex can sell ad space, but frankly, I wouldn't be surprised. The other day, as I was once again being out-manipulated by my own brilliant red and purple Eclectus parrot, Sophie, the following occurred to me: Getting the upper hand with my mischievous, wily bird companion is a lot like gaining control of a sales call.

Consider the following "lessons" I've learned at the hands (claws?) of Sophie the parrot, and see if you don't agree:

Lesson 1: You must look at the world from her point of view.

Parrots and humans simply don't see the world the same way. As humans, for instance, we don't jump at every siren or horn we hear, and we don't run away when a strange face enters our sight. But as prey birds (that is, some other animal's lunch), parrots routinely take off at the slightest provocation, assuming instinctively that an upset in routine means certain danger.

The sales lesson: Bird owners who expect their pet to act like themselves quickly find themselves with one nasty, biting parrot. Likewise, salespeople who expect their prospects to think the same way they do, or to act just like that last client, find themselves with a confused, irritated prospect and a blown sales meeting. It's critical to use pre-call planning and research to find out why, how and when the prospect likes to buy

An exciting speaker and inspiring sales mentor, Helen Berman has appeared at dozens of media conferences and seminars worldwide, in addition to writing popular sales columns for Folio and Expo magazines. She's also written the two-volume book, Ad Sales: Winning Secrets of the Magazine Pros and is working on a new book, Integrated Media Sales: Beyond the Page, Beyond the Banner. To contact Helen directly, call 310-230-3899 or learn more online www.helenberman.com

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