By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Every day is a day of selling. And everyone sells. Some people spend their days selling the idea that they do not like or participate in selling. Every employment activity, and most personal activity involves convincing others of their need for your item, your idea, or your way of thinking.
Some sell with integrity and others have nefarious means. Some use flashy sales pitches and others appeal to your deepest emotions. One of the organizations that I opine in one of the best at plucking heartstrings is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). They will pick a heart tugging tune (sometimes not even related to animals) and pair it with video of animals in various poor states of health with the implication that these animals have been taken from abusive situations. The narrator speaks to let you know how many animals are being abused and how the animals feel about being abused. They tell you these animals need your help. The goal of the message is not to make you want to help these animals; it is to convince you that you need to help these animals.
And that is the goal in any sales presentation or pitch; to train your thought to go beyond the want of something to the need of something, and to take action. Honestly, when it comes to abused pets, I don’t need much of a sales pitch to convince me to act on their behalf. In fact, every time I see those commercials, I feel like jumping through the screen, hugging up on those little animals, and “whup up” on those neglectful, abusive owners. It is just something I need to do.
We are conditioned in our lives to direct our sales presentations, whether we are selling a house or an ideology, to use resources to achieve our desired outcome. The focus is on the person to who we are selling. Many times, those resources are people. And many times, in our excitement and focus on the end customer, we treat our resource people like inanimate objects. If we don’t get the service we want; we treat them like we would treat our car if it doesn’t start properly-beat on the steering wheel, kick the fenders, and say a few choice words to it.
We need to be careful how we work with and communicate with our coworkers, colleagues, and internal customers. Business acumen breaks customers into two categories: internal and external.
External customers are those who examine and purchase (or not) your product. The product may be an item (a tube of Flexseal), a service (help from a personal injury lawyer like George Sink), or even an experience (visit Dollywood for homespun fun). If you are a marketer, it is your job to appeal to those external customers and entice them to buy what you are selling. We who sell (and we are all selling something to a certain extent) are usually laser-focused on ensuring our care of the external customer.
But, as humans and professionals, we are not as careful when it comes to internal customers. Internal customers are those we work with to provide the product to the external customers. If you are a tribal employee or have one in the family, you know very well that it takes a village from many departments to provide product and services. They are critical to product development, promotion, and delivery. And yet, while we are focused on external customer service, we often neglect the very people who make getting the product to the client possible.
There are many reasons for poor internal customer service; lack of understanding of supply chain mechanics, outdated management hierarchy, and inadequate communication skills, to name a few. It is just as important to have a plan and priority for dealing with internal customers as it is with external. After all, poor relationship in the internal customer structure will likely mean poor customer service and poor product to the customer. Any person in a modern organization who doesn’t know this isn’t paying attention. For years, company trainers have harped on the concept of team management and internal customer communications. And yet, we as team members, have a hard time practicing what we preach.
From the early 1980s to the early 2000s, entities and businesses made a concerted effort to educate personnel about the need for focus on communication within the workforce. There were batteries of trainings on sensitivity, harassment, and diversity. For the past two decades, here at the Tribe, the Human Resources Division has done a series of trainings, many dealing with how to treat those in your inner circle, both in the workplace and in the home.
You see, many of the ways we deal with interpersonal relationships translate to home life. When you are at home with your family, there is an expectation of mutual respect, common courtesy, and politeness. We expect that because we need it. It is what we are selling and what we want to be sold.
Many of us have lost our focus on this important theme of life, this communication of common decency and respect. We have lost it in our home life, our work life, and society in general. During some of the most painful episodes in the recent history of our Tribe, we heard our people say some of the most hurtful things and make some of the most damaging accusations, and all the while saying how much they loved each other. On a wider scale, America is having some of the most vicious battles in its history today, and much hate is being shoveled out in the name of love.
Due in part to a society that no longer must confront each other face-to-face, we focus more on our particular message than we do the delivery of that message, and delivery may make all the difference in whether we are accepted or rejected.
If there was ever a time in this generation that there is a need for clear and effective communication, it is now. The air is filled with rhetoric, half-truths, and propaganda. Everyone is coming at you, selling their agenda. You may be trying to sell an agenda of your own. In many ways, it feels like everyone is talking and no one is listening. And when COVID-19 attacked, all the voices got louder.
I challenge you today to take time to shut out the voices. Get away to a quiet place every day, even if it is only a few minutes. Think about how you communicate. Review in your mind how others have communicated with you and how it makes you feel when they do. Regain that lost sense of common decency and courtesy. Then when you are ready to re-engage with the world, maybe you will be the revived voice of our ancestors. And that applies regardless of race or creed. Grandma and grandpa were right; the old ways are usually the best ways.