To Win More Prospects, Stop Selling and Start Courting
Join us at Entrepreneur magazine's Growth Conference, Dec. 15 in Long Beach, Calif. for a day of fresh ideas, business mentoring and networking. Register here for exclusive pricing, available only for a limited time.
The relationship between the buyer and seller is tricky by definition. In a perfect world, it would be a healthy partnership with open lines of communication, honesty and mutual respect. But we don’t live in a perfect world. The reality is that, like dating, these business relationships can also be fraught with self-doubt, misunderstanding and even bad behavior. As a seller, how can you navigate around these pitfalls and successfully court your customer?
Wear a clean shirt. Figuratively, that is. (Also literally. Wear a clean shirt!) Make a good first impression by putting your best foot forward, whether that first impression happens in person, over email, on the phone or even on LinkedIn. Speak clearly, be punctual, deliver on your promises.
It’s not rocket science, yet basic etiquette is often cast aside when the stakes are high. Don’t be so focused on closing a deal that you forget about the human being on the other side of the transaction. Put their needs ahead of those of your own in every communication channel.
Desperation stinks. It’s the quickest way to send someone running in the opposite direction. You need to play it cool. Show some interest and then step back, giving your prospect the space they need to make a decision. A little distance shows confidence. If you’re secure in who you are or what you’re selling, they can be, too.
Easy does it. As tempting as it is to close the deal as quickly as possible but you’re not just trying to score. You're in it for the long haul and that means cultivating the relationship patiently. Getting-to-know-you is a process that takes a few dates. After all, 53 percent of customer loyalty is driven by what happens in the sales process.
Don’t be boring. You know those dates who drone on and on about themselves without ever asking about you? Don’t be that guy.
To achieve your objective, you need to listen. Instead of self-promoting, let them do the talking. Don’t blather on endlessly about your company history or your leadership in the market. Ask thought-provoking questions. You will have better insight into your potential client and gain valuable information for when it IS time to start talking.
Play the field, cautiously. Don’t want to close the door to potential opportunities but it’s important to be selective. You want a truly a good fit that can this go somewhere.
The wrong prospect will cost you enormous amounts of time and effort that could have been directed at the right prospect. The allure of the quick buck is strong, and sometimes it works out fine, but tread lightly.
Know when to break up. Sometimes, you just have to cut your losses. If you’ve given it your best shot and your prospect is just not that into you, it is time to walk away. While you couldn’t make it work this time, maybe you will get a second chance later. Leaving on the best terms possible means you’ll have good word of mouth and maybe a referral that’s your perfect match. It’s better to dump than be dumped.
Given the amount of choice in the market these days, customers can be extraordinarily fickle. To earn another date, sales reps must bring their A-game to every interaction. Successful sales reps focus on building relationships, not closing one-off transactions. Next time you find yourself in a sales situation going sideways, ask yourself a simple question: Would I behave this way on a date?