Picture the scene, you are on a train platform and a fellow passenger smiles at you. They look friendly and professional enough, so you smile back. Then they quickly walk over to you and tell you how great they are at their job, how much of a catch they are and that they are sure they can make you happy. Then they ask you to marry them! How would you feel? Would you be shocked that a smile had developed so quickly into a proposal? Would you wonder why they hadn’t spoken to you first and got to know you a bit more? Whatever your initial thoughts, it’s highly likely that you would at best refuse and at worst run off!
This is exactly what happens when you connect with someone (either on LinkedIn or by another method) then immediately ask your connection to buy something from you or meet you for a sales appointment. This approach feels rushed and not centred around them and their needs.
Think of a sale like a romantic relationship. If you were on a first date and your date spent the whole evening talking about themselves and what they wanted out of life, you probably wouldn’t want to see them again. Everybody’s favourite subject is….themselves! So we respond well to questions about what we do, how we do it and why we do it. Find out a bit more about your connection in a genuine and authentic way. That way you can discover whether you have connected with a prospective buyer, a new friend or just a great connection to learn from.
In sales (as in life in general) the goal is to seek to understand first then seek to be understood. How do you know if you can help someone or not if you don’t find out what they need?
So why do we rush the sale and become self-centred in our approach?
There are many reasons and the two main ones that I come across are desperation – you NEED to sell something to pay your bills or hit your targets. Or laziness, you would rather market your message to hundreds of random prospects (or more likely suspects) in the hope that you might get lucky, rather than do your homework and get to know their needs, goals and problems.
Desperation and laziness are not attractive traits in any situation, so try these instead:
- Build a relationship with your connection based on understanding, trust and rapport
- Be a blessing, be helpful and accommodating
- Show you understand their needs and problems
- A sale has to happen in their time not yours. Work on your pipeline so you never need to rush a sale
- Ensure your conversations are centred around them and what they do, not you and what you do
Good luck and be careful smiling at strangers if you’re getting the train home!