I look back to my early days of prospecting for business and see many of the mistakes I made in trying to get to the closing of the deal. Far too fast!
In my case, my personality type was a combo of extroversion and emotion/heart, therefore building relationships came easy to me. So did transferring the enthusiasm for my service to the prospect…or so I am told!
While these attributes are useful and admirable, they often led me to making assumptions and rash proposals. In other words, I could not hold myself back from trying to consummate the relationship. In fact, I sometimes fall into that trap today as you know what they say about a leopard never changing his spots! People don't change that much.
So what have I done in order to "curb my enthusiasm"? (By the way, have you seen Larry David in that American comedy show of a similar name? Brilliant!). I have learned to behave in the exact opposite way to my style, even to the point of psychologically training my brain and mind to engage before my mouth is put to use.
Let the prospect speak. Allow him or her to tell you their story first. You must identify or diagnose their needs before you go into any reasons why they might even consider buying your product or service.
Many people in the early stages of their sales career fall into this trap. Don't you let yourself be one of them. Refer back to my earlier blogs where I emphasise the need for you to build relationships that are founded on trust, empathy and, dare I say, friendship with your prospect. If your prospect sees you as being a problem solver and solution provider to their pains and aches, business-wise, then you are a great distance down the road in being able to entice them to take you on.
So, let me repeat, not for the first time, diagnosis before prescription!
You are going to come across many different types of prospects in your career. Just remember that when you do win a new customer, that there will be people snapping at your heels, in an attempt to either get them back or to take over as a new client. Therefore, continuing with the business relationship is going to be a critical success factor in your career.
As I have said many times in seminars, many average or even below average sales people can probably win customers that they often don't deserve to secure. That's life. The more important question is whether they can get the second and third and fourth sales. In other words, can they make them lifetime customers? The purpose of your business is to attract in and retain customers, so we will talk in future blogs about retention activities and strategies. For now, let's focus on the prospects that you are trying to secure and get over the line for the first time.
As I referred to above, there are many different types of prospects. The ideal one for you and easiest of course, is where they are really dissatisfied with their existing offering. In other words, you may be pushing an open door and once you start diagnosing where their pain is, you can later match these pains, with pain relievers, i.e. your product or service.
You may have prospects who are so content and happy with their existing supplier, that you may feel you are wasting your time. These are clearly the more difficult nuts to crack. Yet, I believe that these are also worth pursuing, if only to hone your diagnostic and communication skills. If there genuinely is no need, then there is no sale. However, you can still ask these prospects for an opportunity to tell you about their business, no strings attached. Perhaps some of the issues that the current offering/supplier may not be addressing is an opportunity. You may offer them some complimentary advice or opinion on a question that they may not ask their current supplier.
So, if you are interested in building long-term relationships with prospects and clients, you have to invest time in this. Again, I will repeat, get out amongst the prospects, attend networking meetings, bring plenty of business cards, identify people of interest, approach them, introduce yourself, but always ask first, if they haven't got in ahead of you, what do they do.
In a way, this is more about you having the self belief, self image and courage to put yourself out there. I can almost guarantee that the more you see yourself as being this successful prospector, the more success you will attract into your life. Picture yourself as this professional, competent and knowledgeable salesperson. In fact, see yourself similar to this medical practitioner we have spoken about.
Imagine going into a doctors surgery and everyone in there from the receptionist right through to the most senior practitioner, comes across as being unsure, lacking in self-belief and giving off an air of incompetence. Offer on the wall: half-price brain surgery, this week only!!
It doesn't bear thinking about, does it?
Think of the messages that you are currently sending out with your approach to prospects. Okay, so what do you need to fix right now before approaching a new prospect?
Go attend to it right now, fix it and let me know what gaps you have identified.
Until next week then…
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