What would you say to a friend who said he met a great girl and after 2 dates he was going to ask her to marry him. Though I don’t actually know your answer I am guessing most of you reading this would say, “are you crazy?” you don’t know enough about her, you think you are a good match but how do you really know.
Additionally, if you are going to ask someone to marry you, isn’t it expected that they will say yes since there is a courting period? If there were red flags you could pick them up early and either address them or get out before it’s too late.
Makes sense right?
Of course, it does. Then why in sales, are we getting to know very little about our prospect and asked them to marry us so soon? Somehow we think in business courting is not necessary. Well, it is! A prospect needs to understand you, your organization, get questions answered and you need to truly understand what their real needs are, not just the ones they tell you upfront they want or need. You need to know the whys. They whys help you customize a true recommendation for them that reflects all of them, not just what they initially told you wan the issue they were trying to resolve.
The courting period is the time where you really get to know the prospect’s issues and how they are affecting them and their organization. I don’t mean taking them to lunch and to play golf. That is fine but it’s not what building relationships are truly about. The idea of courting should help your prospect self-discover that he/she wants to do business with you. Yews you can tell them why early on my giving them your ‘dog and pony’ show of all of your features and benefits of how you can help them or worse, how you have helped ‘others just like them’. Imaging using that line on a date….
Here are some tip in being successful in sales and frankly in dating….
- Slow down. The courting part takes time. It is also if done well, some true discovery is done and will help really come up with the best plan in the end.
- Ask great questions to get your prospect talking. I’m not talking about questions like, “wouldn’t be helpful if you had a solution that would print your widgets faster and for less money?: That is a leading question and a very silly one. Do you really think they can’t see through that? No. Ask open-ended thought-provoking neutral questions. Think of these questions like this, if you didn’t have an ulterior motive to sell this person, what would you ask them to try to help them with their issue? Those are the right questions. They show that you care about the entire picture and not only what revolves around your particular solution.
- You must truly understand what the Clear Next Step will be at the end of the meeting or phone conversation. Not just “Ill call you next week with the proposal” or “I’ll send a proposal to you on Tuesday”. NO! You must get a clear date and time that you both agree to and have it on the calendar! Your responsibility is to get the agreement of that next step, not suggest it to them. There must be skin in the game, and this is how to test that…BEFORE you propose anything!
- Make sure that you have a full understanding of what they will do if you decide to get them some recommendations based on what they need and how working with you will solve those issues. In other words, don’t buy the ring until you know she’ll say yes.
So is sales really like dating, yes and no. I will tell you it is more like it then you think. Understanding people, TRULY understanding people is the key to a successful career in sales…..Unless you have enough money to buy lots of engagement rings.