A further mind-step in the sales process that I would like to present is assistance. At first glance, assistance seems to be something selfless: the other person – we make the customers or employees the centre of attention and we provide them with a service as loyal assistants. But assistance is much more than that!
In music, it is that musical element that adds to a song’s melody to support its harmony and rhythm. Many pieces of music only achieve perfection through the help of the accompaniment. Songs like “Somethin’ Stupid” from Frank and Nancy Sinatra or the Beatles hit “Julia” sound hollow and uniteresting without harmonies and contrasting voices. It is therefore the role of the accompaniment to support the accompanied party to reach their full potential. Assistance offers support, orientation, identification and therefore identity. A feeling of belonging that exudes security and intimacy.
For assistance to succeed in this, there must be a joint commitment to meaningful intention, a common understanding, or as French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry puts it: “Experience teaches us that love does not come from looking at one another, but from us looking together in the same direction.» In sales, looking in the same direction can be finding the right item that makes the customer happy. In a coaching session, it can be an aspect of personal development. In the private sphere, people need assistance when in recovery, to protect or effectively develop skills, wellbeing, happiness, purpose, or love.
Like all steps in the sales process, assistance consists of a dialogical exchange between assistants and people that are being assisted. It is about providing space step-by-step, but also about reducing it, if harmony, balance or common sense are in danger. It requires a lot of empathy and sensitivity to feel out the smallest nuances and to recognise and respect the boundaries of the other party. This involves revealing these, testing them and integrating them into the assistance process. There can be a range of boundaries: the space, surroundings, pace, the other person, health, mobility, intention, the range, etc.
In the tango, the boundaries of the leading and following party are revealed quickly: alongside physical signals like temperature and smell, sensitivity, obligation, stress and musicality are also conveyed immediately. For example, a quickening pace is enough to convey this. In the tango as much as in sales, or even in employee leadership, it is all about active listening, care, attention and empathy. It is however also about making it clear where the space ends and that the music provides pace. With the example of a “barrida (sweep)” in the tango, this is made clear: stop! The way ends here. A change of direction follows or the music calls for a new step. This requires active intervention, clarity, a sense of reality and sincerity. By sincerity, I mean that, for example, the customer is communicated with clearly, that their desired product will only be delivered in one to three weeks or completely out of stock. Or even that the time span for the submission of the project cannot be changed. Boundaries give the scope for the development of the best possible connection, cooperation and coordination between assistants and the assisted within a common system and a fixed framework. Boundaries are not static in this context. These can be changed through intensive practice, mental and physical development, changing the music, expansion of the range or even changing the room.
Good partners present their counterparts in the best light. Within a certain range, they open up the opportunity to develop a sense of aura, charisma and personality and emphasise these as much as possible. A good partner shows the skill to acknowledge the feelings of the other party and to find the correct solution for them. William Shakespeare’s Romeo encapsulates this perfectly: “Thou canst not speak of that thou dost not feel.”