For anyone who finds selling an awkward process, it may help you to know that the act of “selling” really involves two counterbalancing pieces. Successful selling comes from recognizing the natural rhythm between buyer and seller. Your buying and selling process happens concurrently: you’re selling to a prospect at the same time that your client is buying. When you’re communicating the value and benefits of your service, your aim is to do so in a way that gives them the chance to hear you and gain a natural understanding.
It's a cadence – a back-and-forth rhythm. Have you ever watched a couple awkwardly attempting a dance? One party is trying to lead aggressively and it appears a bit like pushing rather than dancing! The tempo of the dance steps is broken; the other party is thrown off balance and attempts to back away to prevent getting stepped on. And it’s just as painful to watch!
This is the same interaction in a sale going badly. One party is not recognizing the rhythm of the other and the push is throwing the discussion off balance. The prospect naturally backs away because they’re feeling “stepped on”.
In a selling conversation, you’re excited about your service and you feel confident that you can solve the buyer’s challenge. But your energy comes across as pushing, it quickly dissolves the tempo and you’re left wondering why you lost the sale.
After your prospect has revealed their challenge, take the time to listen and get to know them. Before they can place their trust in your process and your company, they need the chance to get to know you as a person.
Gaining Positive Attention is the initial phase in a sales process. Although you don't have to become the buyer's best friend, your aim is to ignite their curiosity so they take the time to learn more and ask questions. Gaining trust is essential to move you into the next phase.
Notice I didn’t say “gain their confidence so you can sell”. The next step in the dance is to build a relationship. Especially when the sales process is long, continuing the tempo of your marketing helps the buyer learn, understand, and trust. During this phase, you want to keep the communication going in both directions. Feed your prospect information while you let them into your world.
Social media, check-in emails, follow-up phone calls: these are all opportunities to have real conversations that are not only focused on business. Mention your child’s birthday party or your parent’s anniversary cruise, or the new puppy joining the family. And embrace the balance by finding out more about what’s going on in your prospect’s world. Ask how the 3rd-grade child did in her first soccer match, or how their parents are moving to their dream retirement house.
Let’s peek at a recent client project of mine. The owner of the company brought me in to give his team a behavioral assessment. I surprised him by asking him to take it as well. I then gave the whole team a debrief, which afforded me entrance into their world and the opportunity to get to know all of them better. I welcomed them to know more about me as well. As we naturally developed our relationship, we eventually came upon the topic of time management, and this opened the door to another project with this growing company.
This leads me to a point you can likely guess: this type of sales process takes time, so be patient! Your job is to develop confidence, belief, and trust for both parties so that your prospect is comfortable investing in you as the right person to help their business at the right time.