How To Sell More (And Better) Using A Two-Step Dance
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Do you find that you or your team are spending far too much time chasing down prospective customers who look promising, but barely respond?
If so, you’re not in the minority - as this is a very common challenge amongst new and existing businesses who are seeking to acquire new customers and expand their customer base.
There is an approach we can use when engaging with new prospective customers that can save us a lot of time and frustration- I call it the ‘Successful Selling Two-Step’.
We need to think of an exchange with a new prospective customer as a two-step dance, where we initiate a dance and our prospect responds. In dancing there is always a leader and follower, and we as the business want to be the leader.
Each action we take, such as an e-mail, phone call or meeting, should be reciprocated by the prospect.
As we lead the dance, the best way to gauge the prospects interest is by their actions, or how they reciprocate our dance steps. This is in fact a much more accurate gauge then what prospects may say, as sometimes it can simply be empty promises like “this sounds very interesting. Let me talk to my partner and get back to you next week.”
Let’s look at a common example. You begin your dance by sending an email to a prospective customer. The prospect responds to your email, and you reply proposing a date and time for a phone conversation. The prospects responds again, confirming your appointment request. Next, you call the prospect at the arranged time. The prospect answers your call and has a conversation with you. You then propose a face to face meeting with the prospect. The prospect agrees and schedules a date… and so the dance continues.
In this example, the dance is very reciprocal. Everytime you initiate an action or a dance step, the prospect reciprocates your action or responds to your dance step.
Exchanges like these are the best when communicating with a prospective customer, however these are not common. Many prospects aren’t as responsive as we like and the situation can often play out very different.
Where most businesses get into trouble is when they have found a prospect they really would like to see become a customer. This ‘prize prospect’ then takes more time than anticipated responding, or is not responding at all. Even without a response, many businesses will continue an awkward one-way dance that expends a lot of time, energy or money ultimately for no result. Let’s look at this example below.
You identify a lucrative prospect. They appear to be a great fit for your business and you know they have a substantial budget for your product or service. So you begin your dance by sending an email to prospect. The prospect responds to your email after one week. You then reply, proposing a date & time for a phone conversation. Another week goes by without any email response from the prospect. You then call the prospect by phone who doesn’t answer your call. You then leave a voicemail message explaining who you are and proposing a chat. Being a diligent marketer, you mark in your calendar when the prospect should be followed-up again.
The following week you call the prospect for the second time. To your surprise, they answer your call, but cut the conversation short by saying “sorry, I’m just in a meeting right now, I’ll call you back in half hour." You wait patiently for the return call telling your colleagues you can’t make it lunch today as you’re waiting on an important call. You then send another follow up email and mark another day in your calendar next week for a second follow up. By now, four weeks have passed, the prospect has responded to you, so you could still consider them a “warm prospect” but their responses to your actions have been very slow. Is this prospect just busy, or as their actions would indicate, are they simply not seeing your products or services as a priority right now?
Can you image a world class dancing champion on stage, about to do an amazing dance involving intricate choreography in front of an audience of thousands? However through circumstances beyond their control, their usual dance partner isn’t available and a stand-in partner has been brought in. Unbeknown to the dance champion, the new partner is nervous in front of the crowd, and hasn’t practiced the choreography.
The dance begins, and the dance champion awkwardly leads, trying time and time again to execute their finely honed dance steps, only to be met time and time again with inadequate reciprocation from their partner.
The dance looks terrible, like two people wrestling each other and as the dance groans along the spectacle ends with both falling flat on their face.
We can all image how terrible this dance would look, yet many of us engage in a dance just as awkward with prospects who in theory sound lucrative, but demonstrate little interest or response to our actions. We confide to ourselves that perseverance is the key to selling success, however perseverance with the wrong prospect is pain.
Interestingly, even if we are world class dancer (i.e. sales professional/entrepreneur), our dance will be limited to the reciprocation from our prospective customer, or the wider market as a whole.
Thinking of your marketing and sales interactions as a two-step dance will help ensure your business is not only focused on the most lucrative prospects, but also the most engaged prospects.