Sales is fundamentally about building relationships – it’s about courtship, asking questions, having deep conversations, and building toward the point where you can “Make the ask” and “close the deal.” In a lot of ways, sales has a lot in common with another prominent real-world example of relationship building: Dating.
Anyone who’s ever gone on a date – whether they realize it or not – has been acting like a sales person. Let’s look at a few ways that the process of sales is like the process of dating…
Don’t be needy
People are attracted to confidence and self-assurance – and this holds true whether you’re out on a date with someone new, or whether you’re a sales person trying to woo a customer. Whether it’s a high-pressure sales person desperate to make a sale, or a desperate longtime singleton out on a date, sometimes the harder you try, the less receptive the other person will be. Don’t put pressure on your prospective customer. Don’t make them feel like you’re pressing too hard to make something happen on the first “date.”
Ask good questions – and truly listen to the answers!
Have you ever been on a date with someone who only wanted to talk about themselves, and who never even let you get a word in? You probably didn’t call them again, did you? In the same way, good sales people should listen more than they talk. It’s not about “you” it’s about “them” – the prospect.
Ask open-ended questions to get your prospect to be expansive and tell you all about what’s on their mind – don’t ask “yes or no” questions. Try to learn as much as you can about your prospect and ask follow-up questions to show that you understand their needs. Make your prospect feel like they are the most important person in the world.
Not every date – or sales prospect – is “right” for you.
Have you ever been on a date where the other person seemed interesting and there was a flicker of promise, but you ultimately decided that you just weren’t quite right for each other? It’s the same way in sales. Not every prospective buyer is going to be the right fit for your company.
A big part of your job as a seller or business owner is not trying to get every single person to buy from you, but to recognize which customers are more likely to be interested in what you sell, and weed out the ones who are not a good fit. It’s OK to say “good night” to a bad date, and it’s OK to say “no thanks” to a bad customer.
Sometimes you don’t know if they’re interested until you put in some effort
Dating is not easy, and neither is the game of sales. Sometimes a date might start out on the wrong foot – you might not laugh at each other’s jokes, the dinner might be late or the order is wrong, everything might be going badly – but later on you discover that you have a lot of shared interests and that you want to keep seeing each other.
In the same way, with sales, your sales process might start off with miscues or miscommunications – you might not realize that the client is even interested to buy from you until later in the conversation. Don’t give up too soon. Put in the time and effort to get to know your prospective customer and keep nurturing that relationship.
Whether you’re trying to find love or make more sales, hopefully you can use these tips to build better relationships. Remember to be confident, really listen to the other person, don’t be afraid to say “no” to a situation that isn’t right, and be prepared to invest some time and effort in a relationship that seems promising for the long-term.
Related: 3 Ways to Improve Client Relationships
About the author: Gregg Schwartz is the Director of Sales for Strategic Sales & Marketing, one of the industry-founding lead generation companies servicing the B2B marketplace. Gregg has developed and implemented hundreds of lead generation programs resulting in millions of dollars in revenue for his clients.