October 20th, 2017
Salesperson Obedience School Lesson No. 2: Be a Dog Whisperer!
Over the last 35 years, I’ve perfected a way to make my prospect’s dog MY new best friend within 60 seconds of knocking on the door. My method improves my closing ratio in the four out of 10 homes that own dogs. I become the “Dog Whisperer”…
Becoming a “Dog Whisperer”…
I find the best way to avoid injury, gain the trust of a dog and create the proper atmosphere for the in-home sales process to take place in a home with a dog is to become the “Dog Whisperer.”
Here is the typical behavior of the dog and their owner when they greet me together at the door:
- The dog will do their job and bark at me, sniff at me, jump up at me and put themselves in-between me and their human owner.
- The human owner will ignore me and devote all their attention to their dog, telling Fido (or yelling at Fido) to stop jumping, stop sniffing and BEHAVE!
The behavior of the dog’s master makes their dog more anxious and likely to jump, bark or worse… This is my opportunity to take charge of the situation and become a trusted member of the family by taking the following steps:
- I completely ignore the dog;
- I use my peripheral vision to identify the breed and behavior of my prospect’s dog;
- I greet my prospect by looking them in the eye, shaking their hand and introducing myself, and;
- I tell the homeowner, “You have a beautiful dog”;
The dog will still bark, sniff and put themselves between me and my prospect — physically with their body — but my compliment of the dog will get the homeowner to begin focusing on me instead of yelling at their dog. The homeowner is likely to tell me something about their dog or ask me, “Are you afraid of dogs?” No matter what the homeowner does, I proceed to address them and ignore the dog.
- I tell the homeowner, “I’m good with dogs” or “I love dogs”; I may also ask the dog’s age, name or express some interesting fact about their dog’s breed;
- I continue to maintain eye contact with my homeowner;
- I continue to ignore the dog;
- I absolutely DO NOT put my hand toward the dog’s face or body;
- I DO NOT shy away from or bristle at the dog’s presence – no matter how big, little, where they are sniffing me or if they jump on me;
- The dog will notice I’m on the same level with their human owner – dominant over them and unafraid;
- By now – within 15 seconds of entering the home, the dog is already beginning to settle down.
This is when I turn the tables, earn the dog’s trust and the prospect’s trust, too…I tell the homeowner, “I’m great with dogs – I’m like the ‘Dog Whisperer’… I train homeowners and their dogs how to act around strangers.”
The homeowner’s eyes brighten and they ask, “The Dog Whisperer? Who’s that?”
Or, if they already know Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, they usually smile, laugh and ask me, “Oh really, How are you like the Dog Whisperer?”
This is good… I want the human asking me questions and ignoring their dog. I need the dog to recognize their human and I are having an amiable conversation. It is important for the dog to see their owner and the stranger in their home are getting along — that the stranger is important to their owner.
I continue my Dog Whisperer analogy, “Yeah… As much as I just want to reach down and scratch your dog’s ears and pet your dog, I can’t. I have to ignore your dog.”
I even make this bold prediction about me and their dog, “We’ll have plenty of time for me to pet Fido later, after we’ve become buddies with each other… “
By now the homeowner has disengaged with their dog and is focused on what I’m saying. This isn’t the first time their dog has barked or jumped up on a stranger. If there is an easy way to fix this problem, they want to know it.
I continue to tell the dog’s owner how Dog Whispering works and I give the dog owner — my prospect — instructions to follow: “You have to ignore your dog, too. As soon as the dog see that you and I are getting along they’ll settle down.” Now, I’m training the homeowner how to behave, too.
At this point, the homeowner usually takes on the posture of an attendant at a magic show. By now, other members of the household usually begin to join us — I haven’t even left the front door foyer, yet. The owner explains to the rest of the household what is going on… And I give them my dog-loving, obedience-school history and instructions for them to follow.
Sure enough, the dog will recognize that their owner and I are getting along with one another… the dog completely changes their behavior. This conversation has usually taken less than 60 seconds. At the end of those 60 seconds, the dog has already settled down. They’ve stopped barking. They’ve stopped jumping. They usually go to their favorite spot in the house and lie down — or bring me their favorite toy… They recognize me as a friend and not a danger to their household. Most important to the sales process, the dog leaves me and their master able to have a conversation about their home improvement needs and my solutions to their problems…
The homeowner is usually amazed at how easily their dog has been tamed or calmed down and they are beginning to trust me… I will need their trust to convert the prospect to a sale. And I will need to be able to hold a conversation without Fido barking and growling…
What If the Dogs are Locked Up in a Cage?
Do you have any idea how long a dog can bark? Some dogs can bark nonstop for hours. A salesperson may lose their voice, but they will most definitely lose the sale if they try to talk over a caged-in, barking dog.
When I’m in a home and the dog is barking from a gated-off area of the family room or from their locked-in cage parked a few feet away from your spot at the kitchen table, I use the same technique as above.
Instead of letting the dog bark and bark while I try to keep the homeowner focused on my presentation, I tell the homeowner, “I’m okay with dogs.” And, “I hate to see a dog caged up.” Then I tell them how I’m like the dog whisperer, etc…
Usually the homeowner asks, “Are you sure? He jumps. I don’t like him jumping all over you.”
I repeat to them, “I‘m the Dog Whisperer, I train dogs. Your dog will be fine with me.”
Invariably, I’ve been able to earn the dog’s trust using these techniques. I’m confident when I speak and the dog senses I am at ease and not a threat… The dog settles down and I make my presentation without being interrupted by an overly protective dog who is concerned for their human’s well-being…
One special caution… If the homeowner tells you they are keeping their dog caged up because the dog likes to bite strangers, don’t argue. Let the dog stay in their cage. There is no reason to get scarred or bitten, or worse… Remember there is one more important statistic for you to consider… Every year there are fatalities due to dog bites. In 2016, 31 dog attacks resulted in human death: 13 child victims and 18 adult victims. The state of California had the highest number of dog=bite-related fatalities in 2016 with six deaths.
2016 Dog-Bite Statistics:
- 5 million humans bitten by dogs
- 6,750 U.S. Postal Service employees attacked by dogs
- 31 human fatalities
- $600 million dollars of homeowner insurance liability claims
- Over 1/3 of all the money homeowner’s liability insurance awarded victims
If you would prefer to make a living from door and window sales commissions instead of an insurance claim from a dog bite, maybe you should try becoming a Dog Whisperer, like me!
This blog is from Door and Window Market [DWM] magazine's free e-newsletter that covers the latest door and window industry news. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to [DWM] magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.