Have you ever had a sales manager or trainer tell you about A.B.C. – Always Be Closing? Old school organizations that believe in brute force sales still exist, but luckily most business developers realize closing a deal depends more on building a relationship than perfecting a pitch.
In fact, my most effective sales question is: ‘What do you need for your business?’
Somewhere a Glengarry Glen Ross fan is muttering ‘blasphemy’ as they slink out for a drink at the Chinese restaurant. (BTW, if you’ve not seen that movie with Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, and Alan Arkin you must check it out) But it is true, instead of worrying about setting up a prospect or going for a close I try to build a relationship. A business coach of mine once recommended trying to make at least 2 referrals for every prospect I met. That has been an excellent piece of advice.
By turning the focus on your prospect and taking a keen interest in their needs you accomplish a couple of things.
- First, you create a bond that fosters trust and credibility. We all trust our friends more than we do strangers. By building a relationship and then a friendship, you gain a level of access that is otherwise unavailable. At that point, selling becomes just another way of helping out.
- Second, you gain insight to your prospect’s true needs. By letting them tell you what their concerns are, you can learn how to help. Get good at asking questions that allow your prospect to unload their frustrations and concerns. There will come a time when you can offer a solution that will seem very appropriate.
- Finally, you don’t have to worry about making an awkward pitch. Instead take a real interest in the other person. Figure out what makes them tick. Ask questions, build a bond. Discuss similar situations where you were able to help. This will let them connect the dots and ask if you can help.
The key to success with this strategy is being sincere. I don’t make cold calls or sales inquiries. I try to grow my network by getting to know others. I’m strategic and spend my prospecting time reaching out to small business owners who are our target customers. But my goal is to make a connection, learn more about what they do, build a relationship, and help if the opportunity arises.
The result for me has not only generated sales, it has also led to ample referrals. And perhaps the best outcome is that it allows me to be me, not some scripted character. The result is a very easy process for building my business.
If you are struggling with your outreach or networking process, we’d love to help. Leave a comment below or schedule a free call with me using the button on this page.