Sales Skills From a Brahmin Priest
I was recently in India, attending a wedding, doing a bit of work and travelling. Throughout my travels, I had the opportunity to be blessed in a Brahma Temple at Pushkar Lake, Rajasthan.
We were with a group of 15 people – both westerners and Indian Nationals, there to be blessed by the Brahmin Priests. We got much more than we bargained for. It was by far the cleanest, most efficient sales process I’ve seen in a very long time.
Let me explain the process step by step:
Upon arrival, we were all personally greeted by a number of Brahmin Priests. They showed us the lake of which they overlook (a blessed and sacred place) and shared some information about the temple itself. They then identified who was married and who was single. Once this was established, they separated us fast. We were taken as couples or singles – each with a priest to have a blessing.
Our Priest made us feel special, and sacred. He asked us personal questions about our families and quickly built rapport. We listened intently and responded quickly so as not to offend or miss out.
He proceeded to bless us, and asked us to repeat prayers and sayings after him as he went ahead. He spoke of love, marriage, future and supporting the community. He prayed that the wife should be happy and the husband is nothing without a wife, how the husband takes care of the wife and that she will always feel safe. It was lovely, kind and serene. He placed a red Bindi on our foreheads followed by 2 grains of rice and a prayer bracelet on our wrists. As he continued to bless our families, and us, he suggested that we could support the community with food offerings. Curious on how we can contribute, I asked, “How does that work and how can we contribute?” to which he replied, “You can support “food days” for people in the community. Each food day that you support is in line with the number of your family members that I will bless.”
This continues for another 15 minutes or so whereby we were lulled into a spiritual blessing and set of rituals. I was then asked to go and place the final offering into the lake and spend some time reflecting. At which point Roger was given a coconut and asked to follow the priest up the stairs.
Upon arriving at a small window marked “Cashiers Counter” Roger was instructed to give the coconut to the cashier as the Brahmin Priest told the cashier that my husband had committed to 7 food days in line with our 7 family member blessings. This was the point where the cashier told him that he was to pay 14000RPS and all became very clear. Roger declined the full amount but due to the forceful banter around us repeating his words in the blessing about our 7 family members and the aligned food days, Roger offered to buy 2 food days instead.
Once the “food day” purchase was complete he bid us farewell and quietly mentioned we could tip him as well.
Now, every opportunity in India is an entrepreneurial one – so this was kind of expected, but this process was so damn smooth I was utterly impressed. My fellow travellers who had all been separated, now regrouped and discussed how much we had all spent for the blessing – it was a whopping total of around $350 for 15 minutes. That’s a half years salary for most blue collar workers in India.
Instead of being frustrated, angry and annoyed, I was inspired, amazed and impressed with how compelling the process was. Clearly there were some parts that were incredibly unethical, but I was interested in what I could take from this to the western world.
Here’s what I learnt:
1 Personalize the experience:
From the very beginning the priest was genuine, kind and didn’t deviate his concentration. He was focussed on us, listened to us and remembered everything we told him. He knew our parents names, where they lived and if we had children. It was intensely personal and intimate.
Ensuring the customer feels unique, celebrated and valued builds rapport quickly and can contribute to the client feeling privileged to work with you. Listening to the conversation, paying attention to their needs and their wants will go a long way to them trusting you and your offering.
2 Control the Content:
He eliminated all of the obstacles by removing the naysayer peers who could have influenced our “food day” donations. We were all separated and focussed on one at a time. Again, it was an intimate experience whereby the customized content relative to our backgrounds and experiences were the primary point of reference.
When we stand up for our businesses and detail why we do what we do and how it supports our customers – it becomes a backbone to the relationship vs a wheat stalk in the wind of content thrown at their inbox each and every day. Give the customer reason to love you – don’t hide away in the background whilst your competitors sing their own praises and give your customers reason to doubt.
3 Sell the purpose – not the product:
We purchased “food days”, not donations. In fact he vehemently stated that they do not take donations – only food days. It just so happened that the food days had a price point. I’m not saying this was the most ethical way of doing it, but what he sold was feeding the poor and making sure the community didn’t go hungry. I was being a part of the solution – not just giving money. It was a much higher power than just a product. Are you selling a product or a purpose? People want to be a part of a greater power than themselves – offering customers the opportunity to be a part of a solution is a much stronger offering than supplying a product.
4 Repeat after me – NLP
There are so many studies about NLP and mimicking the behaviour of the customer that I don’t need to go into that here, but the priest put it very well into practice. We repeated our blessing, how they don’t accept donations but do accept food days, how we could contribute to feeding the poor and have our family blessed. Each key phrase he mentioned, he asked us to repeat. It was brilliant – by the time we finished, I had sold myself on the idea 10X’s over.
Getting the customer involved in the process and having them contribute to the conversation vs talking at them is a much more powerful experience for both parties than just a lecture.
Now, while I wouldn’t replicate this exact process in the western world, the key takeaways are brilliant and on the mark for building relationships, converting the deal and ensuring the client is part of the process. Take it from the Priest.