Raise your hand if you’ve ever done one (or all) of the following:
1) Paced back and forth in front of the telephone, waiting for it to ring (remember land lines?)
2) Stared down your iPhone, willing that text notification to pop-up
3) Incessantly refreshed your email hoping to see Inbox (1)
Follow-up question, did these scenarios pertain to a romantic partner, a potential customer or both? The line I’m attempting to draw is that when you stop and look at them, dating and sales are pretty similar and you can probably take lessons from one and apply them to the other.
Let’s break down some interesting commonalities and maybe learn a thing or two.
#1 – First impressions matter. First impressions aren’t the be-all and end-all, but they are pretty darn important and they essentially set the tone of the relationship within a few seconds of meeting. Put your best foot forward and remember the key components that make up a successful interaction – be on time, eye contact, exude confidence, make sure to listen and not talk the entire time, and a smile never hurts. So far I think it’s fair to say that this rule applies to both a first date and an early stage sales meeting.
#2 – Prior preparation prevents poor performance. It’s always a good move to ensure that your date, errrr, potential customer feels important and knows that you put in some effort in advance. This preparation can include calling ahead to make a dinner reservation or researching your customer’s company beforehand. Casually weaving in facts you’ve learned, like where the company is located, how many employees there are, or the company’s differentiators, will demonstrate that you were thinking of your potential customer prior to sitting down with him/her. This gesture will also be a great indicator of your work ethic and dedication – it pays to do your homework in both scenarios.
#3 – Read the signs. Whether it’s someone’s body language or overhearing the tap tap tap of a keyboard while you’re on a call, when you’ve lost someone’s attention it’s usually best to put a pin in it and revisit the convo at a better time. If your meeting keeps getting rescheduled or you’re getting mixed messages, it doesn’t hurt to be honest and ask the tough questions; are you “dating” other suitors? What are your concerns? What do you need from me to get the contract signed?
And, sometimes he’s just not that into you.
It’s true, there may not be any rhyme or reason to romantic chemistry, but in sales there is usually some explanation that can give you the closure you need. Listen, no one likes losing a lead but sometimes s#!$ happens. It could be that a competitor came in with a sweeter deal, there simply wasn’t budget, or there are another 8,193,729 potential reasons why they had to walk away. Buck up, cry a little if it will make you feel better, and power through because there is always another prospect waiting just around the corner.
Last but not least, emotions trump logic when it comes to love and that equation rings true when it comes to sales too. There was an interesting book that came out a while ago called The 5 Languages of Love, it was originally intended to help nurture marriages but actually translates more universally to other relationships as well.
By considering the expectations or preferences of your potential partner/customer, you can make wiser decisions on how to best allocate your time, energy, and money when it comes to deal closing time (Quick PSA, we are not condoning the 5th language of physical touch in the work place).
Would he or she most appreciate you coming to the office to carefully review the contract terms in person? What about sending over a comprehensive email as a preview of how helpful and effective you’ll be as a vendor? Or would a delivery of some sweet swag do the trick? Remember, it’s not about what gesture you would appreciate most, it’s about being able to anticipate what move will bring your potential customer over the threshold. Because at the end of the day, you’re cultivating a relationship with someone and that is more powerful than whatever it is you may be selling.
So there you go, hope you found these tidbits helpful for your next sales call or date or something in between.