If you want to get better buy-in to safety, you’re going to need to learn this one thing to make the job so much easier.
Safety shouldn’t have to be sold. That comment is typical right across every industry and almost every position within a company. People get hung up on the word selling as though selling is a bad thing, a manipulative thing.
But every day, selling takes place in every industry and every position. An innocent man shouldn’t have to sell a jury to stay out of prison. But he does. You think what a lawyer does all day isn’t selling? There is selling going on everywhere in your workplace too. You sell if you want a raise. You’re selling when you try to convince your kids to clean up their room. You’re even selling your spouse when you want to watch a particular movie on TV and they want to watch something else. You sell everyday.
Why people buy anything
What seems like a lifetime ago, I used to sell photocopiers. In my car driving from one town to another in rural Alberta, I would cold-call businesses, churches, schools and hospitals looking for new customers. People don’t buy a photocopier. They buy what that photocopier can do. And more importantly, what it can do for them. How it makes their lives easier.
No one buys anything that doesn’t make their lives better in some way. It’s why we buy homes, cars, vacations, education, insurance and investments. Those things make our lives better, more comfortable, less uncertain. You willingly buy not because you have to, not because some sleazy salesman sold them to you but because you wanted to. You buy when you convince yourself that your life will be better, or that your family will be protected, or you will finally have a sense of freedom ... if you could just have that thing.
You sell safety the same way too. It’s not about shoving safety down the throats of your people. It’s about helping them see that safety improves their lives in a way that they are probably not seeing it. People will gladly buy safety when they can clearly see the benefits.
The 2-Sales Rule
Back in 1997, I left a job in photocopier sales to publish my very first book. It was a book on selling techniques. I won’t make you buy it to get the point of this lesson. I will summarize it in one example though. In every sales situation, there two sales that are made. The first sale is you: the salesperson. The second sale is whatever is in the briefcase – the product, point-of-view or idea. That created the 2-Sales Rule.
The 2-Sales Rule: if you don’t make the first sale, you will never make the second sale.
People buy the salesperson before they ever buy the before they ever buy what that person is selling. So you’re not selling safety. You’re selling yourself. Your people must buy-in to you before they will ever buy-in to your ideas, your vision for the future or your focus on safety. If you don’t make the first sale, you will never make the second sale.
Trust is the key factor
Why is it like that? Because we don’t buy things from people we don’t trust. That’s key. You will never sell something to anyone against their will. Selling is about presenting facts and feelings in a way that make people want to buy-in. But we only buy from people who we can trust and who we allow to influence us.
You are selling your trustworthiness, your caring and your ability as a good coach focused on their benefit. They need to feel that you have their backs before they will buy-in and have yours.
Safety Hearts & Minds Tip: Selling safety isn’t about jamming safety down your people’s throats. Selling safety is about getting permission to help them be better and to help them get what they want.
Kevin Burns, consultant/author and speaker, works with smart, caring companies to energize safety culture, build teamwork, and get employee buy-in. Kevin's mission to help employees purposefully care about the work they do, the way they do it, and to actively look out for the people they do it with.
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