Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Selling In Your Teaching Room III: gentle interference.

Tommy Thompson, Alexander Technique teacher in Cambridge USA, coined the phrase “gentle interference” to explain how he touches his student. I think it a great name for another touching moment: when you sell your next lesson. Every AT teacher has this experience, but do you recognize it for the moment that it is? 

It is a moment of gentle interference: when a student needs your input to guide them. It may be about when to book the next lesson; or considering if to continue after a Trial session; or a student off on holidays wondering whether to book now or call later…

How well do you recognize these moments? How critical do you perceive them to be to the future success of your teaching career? How skillful are you at handling them? Here’s a primer, based around 7 Operational Ideas of Alexander’s discoveries, to stimulate you to think about how to handle these selling moments in the future...

Both you and your student are likely to have money concerns. You both have life situations. You are there to transact a contractual relationship based on the exchange of money for services that will improve both your life situations. Is this information included in your thinking? The unified circumstances of your student’s life constitute conditions of use that affect the kind of offers you make, and your advocacy of that offer in face of their resistance.

Does your student recognize the condition they are in? How aware are they of the work’s potentialities and their needs – can you connect these in ways your student does not see? Have you the courage to communicate the consequences if they choose not to continue their lessons? It’s your job to let them know – that is what they are paying you to do. You job is not to be nice, it is to be truthful.

Your lesson will influence their decision to continue or not - it is within your job description to schedule “the selling moment” and timing is critical. The moment a person is fully cognizant of the value you are bringing into their life is the right moment to ask them to continue.

Head movements govern vertebral co-ordination: the information you receive about how your student is moving tells you a lot about the primary driver of their behaviour: you need to understand how they make a decision. Some people buy with their heart, others with their head. How is your student deciding – do you know?

A person buys a ticket on a transport that is going in the direction they want to go. How well do you know where your student wants to go? Knowing this enables you to present pertinent, constructive information for their decision in the selling moment. They will decide to continue or not to continue - are you supporting or obstructing their decision?

This is the deciding moment of selling i.e. when you “close” the deal with your student. Are you a closer? Alexander in UCL describes inhibition as a moment during which two distinct phenomena converge: 1. memory (knowledge of what they want, what you can give them); 2. awareness (the reality of now: how the session affects them); these two influence their choice. There is only a dual response: yes or no. You can’t be partly pregnant, so make sure you book the next session.

You can’t use your habit to change your habit – it doesn’t work that way. So the art of selling involves knowing that what may be best for a student is likely to feel wrong to them at first. The etymology of knowing anything is a core issue addressed by Alexander's discoveries: you know your student will be caught in this Catch 22 of existence. How will you handle that?!

Is this helpful or not? I can go deeper into each point and run it as a 7 day blog series. Let me know on FaceBook or in the comments below…

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