One of my reps was finding it difficult to engage his prospects and build the relationship. Seeking my counsel he explained, “I’m having a hard time getting the conversation started and when I do, the dialogue seems to end too abruptly. I try to get the ball rolling by talking about our latest new products but often find this leads to a bored and disengaged potential customer. How can I sell anything when I can’t even get to know the customer and his needs?”
Let them know you care
The solution to this dilemma is to get to know your client before you pitch the product. As the influential American author, salesman, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar (ziglar.com) said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Build a business relationship
To demonstrate care, you need to build a lasting relationship. I advise people to work from a framework that enables them to understand their client before they propose any solutions. Following a conversational system, one based on a series of images that help you remember the sequence to use when developing a relationship, helps. Here is system I have found to be effective.
- Name plate – When you meet someone think of a name plate. Start with asking, what is your name? Everyone likes to be remembered personally.
- House –The name plate is attached to a house. Next ask, where do you live?
- Group of people – Within the house there is a group of people. Ask about your prospect’s family or coworkers.
- Man with a glove – Within the group is a man with a work glove on his right hand. This image leads to questions like, where do you work, or where do you go to school, or how do you spend your time?
- Airplane – In the grip of the work glove is an airplane. This reminds you to ask, where do they like to vacation?
- Tennis racket – On the nose cone of the airplane is a propeller fashioned out of a tennis racket. This picture triggers questions about favorite sports, hobbies, and leisure time activities.
Know the decision maker
Working your way through this series of questions yields insight on your potential client’s world and enables you to relate to them on a more meaningful level. My rule of thumb is that before closing a new account, you should know at least 5 things about the decision maker. If you fall short of that number, you have more relationship building to do.