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Selling Safety

I have trained a lot of people in the almost thirty years as a police officer.  One of the first things I always say to a new recruit is, “We are in the sales business.” I always follow that up with a clarification of “We sell public safety.”

Ivan Devitt and I attended a conference this past week and one of the speakers was an FBI agent that taught a block on Social Psychology.  He reminded us that one of the key social elements to being successful with others is trust.  The lecture focused primarily on how to make others feel better after meeting you.  It reminded me about how smart our moms are because they teach us those things at about two years of age.  They call it the “Golden Rule.”

The lecture dealt with the application of building rapport, trust and influence. The agent had a several-step training program with concepts and techniques that you would think would take years to master.  And it does.  It’s the years we have spent growing up, interacting with others, experiencing challenges and basically everything that has formed our lives to this point when we deal with people.

Sadly, we know these things but we don’t always do them. As we listened to the agent, it made me think how successful we can all be at making people feel better after meeting us and how we can apply it to our jobs.  If you think about the opportunities we have when we come into contact with others while working our particular posts, making those people feel better after meeting us is vital.

Think about how critical it is to ensure that our clients have complete confidence in our ability to handle any security issue that may arise when we are on duty.  Let’s face it, when a disruptive individual enters, or a medical issue happens, or we are faced with a critical incident, we are the ones they need!  Their confidence and trust in us is paramount.  We gain their confidence and trust by our actions and interactions.

When we meet and contact folks while on duty, do they walk away feeling better for having met us?  I think several key elements are achieved when we sell public safety. One thing we gain is the trust and confidence of our public and another is the fear and reluctance of someone that may be there for not-so-good reasons.  Eye contact, attention, conversation, observation, and interaction are all tools that keep us visible and credible.

We can’t be effective if we are not connected to our surroundings and the events going on around us.  If the good folks know we are watching and are observant, fantastic!  If the bad folks know we are watching and are observant, fantastic!  Being connected to our surroundings put us ahead of the situation when things go wrong.  Our job is to instill that confidence to those we are sworn to protect. Be highly visible when on duty.

Never compromise your integrity and professionalism by being that guy that does just enough to get by.  Be the guy with answers and solutions to problems.  Make sure when people talk about you they are saying things like, “That guy knows what he is doing.”  Don’t ever forget that these folks count on us to be there when things go bad. I think we will never know all the many bad things we divert just by being on the job and paying attention to minor details and that all starts with our salesmanship.

We are in the business of safety and security.   When we work hard to build that trust in those we serve, our job comes full circle.  Let’s make sure those folks that come in contact with us walk away better because they met us.  When that happens, it was a good sell!