Selling with Aloha
By: Dieter Giblin, Security Consultant, Integrated Secuity Technologies Inc. | PSA Sales and Marketing Committee Member
Selling with Aloha
I get asked a lot what it is like being in Hawai’i. It is a different place and the truth is: it is a bit of different world. Yes, we have beaches, the sun and some of the best surf in the world. But there is a mentality here that is hard to put a finger on. I worked in Silicon Valley for almost 10 years during the Tech boom of the 90’s. The hustle and bustle of that world was electric, extremely competitive, with everyone looking for the “Bleeding Edge”. You were dealing with the who’s who of technology, and everyone wanted it now. Not to say that Hawai’i does not have some of this, but primarily business is about the people.
There are some factors in the way business is accomplished in Hawai’i. It is a bit more laid back, it is more about the who, not the what. There is an incredible mashup of cultures here. The Hawaiian culture is interwoven with a myriad of Asian cultures, as well as Portuguese, and Mainland culture (Mainland is what the Continental US is called). Being small and having this mashup makes business very much about having conversations and getting to know the people you deal with not just the product.
People talk about 6 degrees of separation in Hawai’i- it is more about 2 degrees of separation. Chances are the people you are doing business with know someone you know, they went to school with your friend, or your Auntie, they are in church with someone you know or their child is a classmate of your kid. You will see them at the store someday or at an event, it is a guarantee in Hawaii, so the slash and burn sales world will not work, and selling with Aloha is a must.
So what does that mean? “Aloha”? Well, let’s take a look at the meaning. Aloha is not just a greeting or saying goodbye, and Aloha is not just a word. Hawaiians’ aloha — which has many meanings — often connotes a certain laid-back live-and-let-live attitude. Translated literally, it means “the breath of life.”
But aloha is also sometimes interpreted as an acronym for five words meaning the following:
Akahai – kindness
Lokahi – unity
Olu’olu – agreeability
Ha’aha’a – humility
Ahonui – patience
So, to practice Aloha while selling invokes the above. It evokes feelings of trust and goodwill. There are so many times you have to just take a step back and understand that Aloha is a way of life. Let’s look at each word and how it impacts selling on the Island.
Akahai – Kindness. In business and competition, it is something that is forgotten about. Why should I be kind to my competition? Well many reasons, one of the most pertinent is how do you want to be perceived by your competition and your prospect/customer. When you practice kindness it becomes harder for the competition to bad mouth you, to say to your prospect/customer that you are incompetent or that you will not complete the task.
The term “Kill them Kindness” has merit. In the world today it is a forgotten art to practice kindness in all we do, to understand that what you do today to someone reflects in what happens tomorrow. It is easier to have likability if you practice kindness then if you do not
Lokahi – Unity. This is a principle of being aligned with your customer, your company, and your community. Understanding with your customer wants, unifying your install team in seeing the vision, and how it will affect the community in where you live and work. Unity is defining a common goal.
Olu’olu – Agreeability. This is a bit of a state of mind. It is having the conversation with your Prospect/Customer and being agreeable and pleasant. When things go south in a sale to still be there as a rock and find a way to work through it. To be that person that is stable and steady, to be seen as the person that can guide but do it in a way that is not abrasive.
Ha’aha’a – Humility. We all know that person that believes they are then end all be all, and let’s face it, it is off-putting. When you come into a project, as I like to call it, with humble confidence and you believe that it is the team that makes the sale then you are a true practitioner of Ha’aha’a. To me, this is one of the keys to Aloha. To understand that it is a community and that it is not always about you but your team, and putting the team first promotes the rest of Aloha.
Ahonui – Patience. As sales people, we are not the most patient. We want it now and we want an answer. We hate no, but we hate no response even more. Learning to have patience seems counter-intuitive to every sales mantra out there. However, having some patience can go a long way. Now I am not asking you to not follow up with your prospect/customer and ask the status, but if you ask with impatience it will translate into your voice. Just take a breath and trust in yourself and patience will come.
It has taken me some time to really live these principles, to break down the barriers of being Haole in Hawaii. But the one thing I have realized that I have always had many of these principles with me. I have always had Aloha, it was translating into sales. To live your life with these principles and as a Sales Person is easy. It is amazing when you actively embrace the principles of Aloha, how sales increase, your relationships with your team improve, and your customers/prospects believe in you more.