You may have fallen in love with your high school sweetheart. You may be single and deeply entrenched in the wild world of dating. As a rule of thumb, it is wise to separate business from pleasure. Specifically, when it relates to romance.
But we have a lot to learn from our dating experiences. Hard skills and soft skills. When it comes to sales, dating hits many of those skills that we developed. Cold calls, texts, emails, cultivating relationships, making the pitch for a second date. You can finesse your relationship building skills that are transferrable to the office. You can also learn what NOT to do.
Topics to steer clear of: Okay this may be most applicable to the first few dates, but it is still very relevant to sales. When you are beginning a relationship, everyone knows to stay far away from discussing politics, religion, etc. You know the drill!
Yes, you can have interesting conversations and even disagree- on dates and with clients. What you do not want to do is enter the area of controversy and debate. Proceed with caution and the following advice.
Break the ice: Most relationships start online these days. That first conversation can be challenging or dare I say awkward. Pawel Paluch uses his Zoom background as an icebreaker. Paluch explains how a colleague of his who is a Star Wars fan leveraged that to bond with a customer:
Yes, it is easier to employ a blurred background, but you may be missing out on a bonding opportunity. Pawel added that he found “that a blurred background or a mess causes the meeting to collapse – your background shows your personality which is a very important factor in sales/business.”
Find common ground: It is a great way to bond early on.
Maybe it is a tv show or genre. Maybe you grew up in the same neighborhood. Maybe it is a food condiment. Schmooze. Figure it out. You will forever have that connection no matter how inconsequential the commonality is.
Don’t play games: Nobody likes games. Not in the game of dating or sales. Be real. Be authentic. Everyone appreciates transparency. You are in sales. You are all about relationships, not gimmicks.
Consent: Don’t be so pushy! Be clear and direct about where you would like your business relationship to go. Don’t send materials or a contract to your champion’s boss to speed a sale along. Make sure that your buyer is fully on board as you guide them through the buyer’s journey. If you move forward without consent, you will hurt the sale and relationship. Hold back.
Before going on a first “date” decide if there is anything there: Don’t bother asking them to set up a demo if there is nothing there. If your businesses are compatible go for it and make that demo happen. As long as the company can make use of your company’s product or service, book that demo. If the possibility does not make sense from your standpoint and they seem disinterested, read and accept those signals. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs.
Always keep them wanting more: Don’t play your entire deck of cards at once. Sprinkle your touchpoints to give them time to keep being intrigued and exploring the marketing materials, case studies and webinars you are offering. Demonstrate value every time you interact.
Don’t get friend-zoned: You may genuinely like your customer and want to hang out on a Sunday. That may be cool, but ultimately you want a business relationship! You can cultivate a sales relationship with some of your personal shared interests, but keep in mind that you are looking for sales here, not to fill up your social calendar.
Ask questions: Finally, nobody likes to sit through a spiel. People want to know that you care about them. Ask questions. Don’t read a standard checklist of questions. Come from a place of curiosity. Here are some helpful conversation starter questions. The best way to get to know your client and deepen your relationship is not through googling them or stalking them on LinkedIn. Just ask. Not only will their answers be helpful, but they will know that you care about them.
No matter how one relationship or deal does or doesn’t pan out, you’re always going to be on the hunt for your next round. Do you have other advice to share about navigating the sometimes-murky waters of sales? Let us know!
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