A Valuable Sales Lesson from a 5-Year-Old

November 24, 2022
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When you ask good questions, you’ll be able to build trust and rapport with your customer. Read the story to know how I learned about the same.

So about a week ago, we were at the beach and met up with a friend whose son’s birthday was the following weekend. While we chatted, her son, a to-be 6-year-old who was clearly stoked about his upcoming party animatedly described to my 5-year-old the play centre where the party was to be hosted. My 5-year-old daughter, Ally, listened intently as he rattled on. 

The following day I reminded my 5-year-old of the party. Not taking her eyes off her colouring book for a single second, she calmly replies “Yeahhh… I’ve decided I’m NOT going to that party!” 

Completely taken aback, I stop in my tracks! I mean this is one of her best friends and she usually loves birthday parties. Warily I walked back to her and ask why to which she replies 

“ Ummm… I DON’T LIKE the place!” 

Given we’d never been there, this left me quite bewildered and I spent the next few days unsuccessfully convincing her to go. I described the fun time she’d have with her friends, and the cool lolly bags she’d get (which to a typical 5-year-old is a HUGE incentive) but my daughter remained resolute and didn’t sway.

For those of you without kids, if you’re wondering at this point why I’m spending so much time convincing a 5-year-old. Trust me, you do not want to be dropping off your child at a party they don’t want to be at. It would be a nightmare for the parent in charge.

Anyway, back to the story. So, after numerous failed attempts to sell the idea to my very adamant daughter, I finally came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea. I would call in the troops, I’d get the birthday boy to do the job for me. So, I set up a FaceTime call with Ally and the birthday boy. Not wasting any time, the little boy once again launched into how AMAZING this play centre with the GIGANTIC slide was and how she MUST come for the party. After having heard him out for a bit, she finally sighs and says to him – “Okay! I’ll come” and then hangs up. 

Feeling super pleased that my plan worked, while patting myself on the back, I almost rhetorically confirm she’s going to the party to which she replies quite emphatically “I told him I’m going … BUUUUTTT… I’m NOT.”

Truly stunned and utterly defeated by this point, I let it drop. Finally, on the day before the birthday party, I sat down with my daughter. This time I decided to delve deeper into what was going on in my daughter’s head. 

Me: Ally, Why don’t you want to attend the party tomorrow?

Ally: I don’t like the place.

Me: What don’t you like about the place?

Ally: The gigantic slide.

Me: So, why don’t you like the gigantic slide?

Ally: It’s really dark and has cobwebs.

Me (utterly stunned but super curious by this point): Who told you about the gigantic slide?

Ally: The birthday boy! (Aha! We have a culprit. Now we’re getting somewhere!)

Me: Did he tell you about cobwebs? 

Ally: Noooo… but I remember this other gigantic slide which was dark & had cobwebs. And there it was! In an effort to sell her how amazing this particular slide was, the little boy had unintentionally triggered off a memory of a completely different slide in her mind causing her to shut down the idea completely.

Often when we work for a company with an amazing product/service, we are so eager to talk about the brand and the USPs so much just like the little boy that we completely forget to take the time to ask questions and understand what are our customer drivers and deterrents to making a decision. We just TELL our customers about our AMAZING product and expect them to buy from us.

Much like me with my daughter, we then struggle to understand why the customer is not proceeding forward despite our product/services being an AMAZING FIT for them. Most importantly, when you have built a strong rapport with your customer, they can feel uncomfortable saying ‘No’ to you so they either 

  1. Avoid you altogether. They stop responding to your emails, constant voicemails, etc. 
  2. Or worse! Just like my daughter who clearly didn’t want to hurt the birthday boy’s feelings, the customer may say what they FEEL the other person wants to hear without any real commitment/intention of proceeding forward. For eg. “Let me think about it!” or ” We’ll call you when we’re ready.”


In a nutshell, I was reminded of the importance of ASKING lots of questions & and then taking the time to actively LISTEN 


prematurely jumping into PRESENTATION MODE. 

FYI: If you’re wondering what happened with Ally, once I understood the “Why”, I was able to alleviate her concerns quite quickly by showing her pictures of the play centre on Google and dispelling any concerns she had. She ended up going to the party and when I picked her up, all she said again and again was 

“Mum! I’m so glad I went because it was SOOOOOO…. FUNNNN! It was SOOOOOO…. FUNNNN!!!” 😉

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