Keep Your Prospect “Safe”

Keep your Prospects Feeling “Safe”

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Ego States

The psychologist, Eric Berne, theorized that we all have three recordings of videos running when we are first brought into the world through about age 5.  The videotapes or “tapes” create our three ego states:  Parent, Adult, and Child.  Your Adult video recorder is the only one still recording as we continue to learn and synthesize new information.  Our ego states ultimately control everything we think, say, feel, and do or not.

In sales, leadership, and communication, people initially buy or make a decision emotionally from their Child Ego state.  Therefore, keeping them in the Child Ego state is helpful and the only way to do so is to maintain your Nurturing Parent Ego State.

The Nurturing Parent keeps the prospect nurtured and feeling “Safe.”  The Nurturing Parent doesn’t apply pressure, but instead continues to nurture and avoid making the prospect feel “less than” or stupid.  The nurturing parent communicates being helpful, understanding, advice-giving, nurturing, protective and supportive. You use words that are agreeable, approving, pleasant and warm.  

As sales professionals, we strive to spend at least 70-75% of our time in the Nurturing Parent Ego State.  And, the other 20-25% in the Adult with rationally supportive information and co-learning with the prospect.

Parent – The parent represents a massive collection of video recordings in the brain of external events experienced or perceived in approximately the first five years of life. Since the majority are actions of the parent, the ego state is called Parent.

The young child has no way to filter the data; the events are recorded without question and without analysis. One can consider that these events are imposed on the child.

Examples of Parent recordings:

  • Never talk to strangers
  • You have to…clean your plate, look both ways, or wear your seatbelt
  • You should or have to do this or that or else.
  • That’s right or That’s wrong (Any judgment)

Child – The Child state includes the emotions or feelings which accompanied external events recorded from birth to approximately 5 years old.  It is how we feel about what was recorded.

Examples of recordings in the Child include:

  • When I saw the monster’s face, I felt really scared
  • The clown at the birthday party was really funny!
  • I want it

Adult – Near one year old, a child begins to exhibit gross motor activity, and learns he or she can control a cup and grab a toy. In social settings, the child begins to play peek‐a‐boo and learns facial expressions influence the people around them.

Our Adult ego state is a computer, grinding out decisions after computing information from the Parent, Child, and other data the adult has gathered.  The Adult confirms the Child’s initial decision of, “I want” or “I have to have it” made by the Child by processing what the Child feels, the Parent has taught them, and what other rational information is available.

Examples of your adult recordings:

  • I think
  • In my opinion
  • Based on all the information it seems

Transactional Analysis Simplified Summary:

  • Parent – taught
  • Child – felt
  • Adult – learned

Sales Person’s and Leader’s Roles

Nurturing Parent (75%):  As sales professionals, it is our professional responsibility to keep our prospect safe and in their Child ego state by nurturing.  We should spend 70-75% of our time in the Nurturing Parent ego state and be keeping the prospect “Safe.”  By maintaining our nurturing parent we create a feeling of trust.    

Rational Adult (25%):  We must also provide the rational information and help them synthesize their Adult decision supported by rational information by investing about 25-30% of our efforts in our Adult ego state.  

Emotional Child (0%):  As sales professionals, we should spend absolutely ZERO time in our controlling parent or any of our own Child ego states.  Introducing our emotional child to the sales process can wreak havoc on the entire sales process where we are attempting to get our emotional needs met instead of helping the prospect by nurturing.    

Controlling Parent (0%):  Being a Controlling Parent invites the other person into a Child state where they may conform with your demands. There is also a risk they will be an Adaptive ‘naughty child’ and rebel. They may even take the Overly Adapted child and comply as long as you are with them and cancel as soon as you leave.   They may also take opposing Parent or Adult states.


Ultimately, by spending 70-75% of our time in the Nurturing Parent role and keeping our prospects feeling “Safe” and engaged in discovering new solutions, which may include our product or service, we are far more likely to have success.   By investing 25-30% of our time in the Adult ego state we can co-create a solution and provide the rational information a prospect needs to support their Child’s initial decision to buy or not.

If we make them feel unsafe by being in our Controlling Parent or Child Ego states, they are far less likely to buy, and, even if they do, it may be in spite of us instead of because of us.  We are highly unlikely to ever get a referral.  Consultative or Advisement Sales, where I set myself up as the “All Knowing Guru” (aka Controlling Judgemental Parent) or expert, I make the prospect feel stupid.  How long do you like to be around people that make you feel stupid? Not long!

If I’ve made someone feel even a little unsafe, do you think there is any chance whatsoever they are going to introduce me to their trusted friends and family?  Heck no!  When I ask for referrals, they’re likely to say, “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you” when the truth is, “Heck no!  I don’t trust you or feel safe with you even if I wanted what you sold.”

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