Ogilvy once said “Nobody does anything until someone sells something.” With at mantra like that you’d think the Sales Nation would have a great understanding of how to do it. Unfortunately the simplest, most foundational principles in sales are often overlooked. In a rush to get someone to just buy something most salespeople stumble through even the most basic concepts. Take a look below, and remind yourself on how to properly treat a prospect:
1. Do your research on the prospect personally
Did you even take a look at them on LinkedIn? Did you Google their name and see if they’ve been published or quoted recently? Have you checked them out on social media? This person is more than just your prospect, a name on your contact sheet, this person has a rich life both at and away from work. If you want to connect with someone you’ll find a wealth of topics if you just take a minute to explore beyond the narrow field of YOUR interest and instead look into theirs.
2. Listen to them
If you want to be heard first try and listen. In the dozens and dozens of calls they probably get a day almost none of them really listen to what the prospect says. Is it not a good time? Ask when one might be, don’t push. Will they not have time to focus until a few months? Great, thanks for taking my call and I’ll reach out over email with something that might be valuable, otherwise I’ll speak to you then. This extends beyond simple conversations over the phone or email and extends to what they say in the media. Have they written about something on their blog? This is the time to notice, it’ll set you apart.
3. Allow them to be themselves
Walking hand-in-hand with good listening, you’ll get a lot further along with a prospect if you give them space to be their own person on the other end of the conversation. Everyone at the bar wants to go home with someone who makes THEM feel uniquely special, not someone who just wants to bring SOMEONE home that evening. The number of sales reps who follow a script and shuffle a prospect through it is staggering. Sales come from making a real connection, people aren’t cattle.
4. Look to what you can do for them, regardless of what you want
Me me me me me is how most sales reps think when they grind through numbers on their call lists. Can you buy from me? Here’s why you should buy from me! Rather than think only of the sale and pitching to it, think about what YOU can do for THEM, regardless of whether or not it’s going to lead to a sale. Can you connect them with someone who can help them on a project? Can you forward relevant documents or info on something their working on? How can you help them meet their goals? Cialidini’s principle of reciprocity will kick in and they’ll feel indebted; plus, they just learned how you do business: by making sure the people you work with walk away better than you found them.
5. Remember they’re people and sales are results of relationships based on value and trust
What happens when you listen, put their interests first, and respect their space? You develop a real relationship based on trust. If you’re persistent (which you should be, and if you’re not you should be thinking about a career outside sales), they’ll get to know you as someone they can trust to help them hit their goals, and if those goals can be helped to make happen with your product or service you better believe your phone or inbox will be blowing up. People constantly talk about referral sales and this is how it happens. Over time (and usually not that much time), they’ll know your value prop and will be happy to deliver it to their colleagues for you when they hear a need that aligns with it. You know what’s better than pushing to make your numbers? Building a relationship that can last a career and refer dozens of more business to you.
6. Thank them for their time
You think you’re the most important thing they’re doing? Thank them for their time, and make sure you do it right after they used some of it with you. If you have next steps that involve deliverables remind them what you’re going to do. It’s like making your bed when you first get up: something is already done and you’re hacking your own brain to make sure you’re going to get it done.