Selling: How to link up with your prospects

Everyone is selling something – from those selling wares in the local marketplace, to non-for-profit organisations nudging a population to behave in a particular way; a young man seeking the hand of a damsel in marriage, or government agencies strategically driving communications asking a population to pay tax. In sum everybody is a salesperson.

But there are professional salespeople. These are the most important people in every organisation. Why? They ensure ideas, products, and services bring in money, by carrying out basic and advance interactions with prospects. Prospects are organisations or people who may develop interest in a particular offering.

Early inventors needed the help of good salespeople to take ‘their brainchild’ to those who value them. It is amazing though that being an inventor or a producer does not necessarily make one a successful salesperson. At best, what every inventor or producer has is passion and insight that leads to product development. That is not all that matters.

Marketing thrives on insights about market needs and the several researches that are needed to ascertain market size and project the likely success of a proposed product. However, without the interactive skills of a good salesperson, those products may be lost in the ‘pipelines’.

Sales people can mess up a sales process by using wrongs words, terms, description, tones and appearances that often are unfit for the target.

In this case, a product, an idea, or some form services, may have good value that prescriptively match the needs of a prospect, but those good values could be tucked away in some haranguing, posturing and lack of confidence exhibited by the sales person.

The first sales magic wand is understanding prospect personalities. Prospects are diverse in their make-ups. A sales person will come up against highly temperamental (the executive-type) prospects, analytical (the manager type) prospects; and the ones that are social or plainly neutral and disinterested. No salesperson can approach every prospect in the way.

For instance, selling to an organisation which has a ‘Barack Obama’ as the contact person would need a different approach to selling to the one with a ‘Donald Trump’ at the helms. This is because buying is both an emotional and rational decision.

Quite often, people buy more for emotional reasons. That is where ‘mirroring’ comes in.

The logic of mirroring is that people like people who share similar characteristics and attributes with them. A soft talker would realise how easily he is drawn to a soft spoken salesperson. A humble person would appreciate humility in the other person. Logical, analytical person would like to see a bit of thoroughness in those approaching them.

What is all these about them?

  1. Do Your Home Work. If you are a salesperson, research the personality of your prospect, know your product well, and prepare to mirror the prospect as best as you can. That demands you learn role play, role switching, tonality and flexibility that will help match your target personality-type. Not every prospect likes gaudy make-ups, heavy cosmetics, or too much formality. By knowing who you are going to be meeting through prospect-value-analysis, you can develop the appropriate approach. It is a game, isn’t it? A soccer coach wouldn’t approach every game the same way despite the fact that he would be selecting the same set of players for each match. He or she would approach each match based on information gathered about the strength and weaknesses of the opponent.
  2. Look Out for the Organisation. Everyone has an organisation around them. From the spouse, to the kids, siblings and grannies, there is always an organisation around everyone of us. They are the ones we all look out for when we need counseling, warmth and comfort. When sales approach, individually, fails, look out for the most valuable of the prospect’s organisation, and channel your sales approach through them. You must ensure you are able to convince this link person.
  3. Locate the Locus of Power. When you visit an organisation and spend a larger part of your time speaking and convincing someone whose standing or rank in the organisation is inconsequential, or someone who doesn’t have sufficient buying power,  you would be wasting vital energy and time but getting nowhere. You must locate the ‘locus of power’. That is where the influence is. If the locus of power is the foreman in a factory, the CEO who knows close to nothing about the factory processes would be helpless when the foreman is discontent with your offering. Individually, also, when a target highest priority is saving cost, you would be wasting your time selling an expensive gadget to them.
  4. Always Wear A Smile. As simple as it looks, a smile is the most treasured asset in the whole world. It softens the hardest of hearts. It breaks the thickest of defense. Always approach a prospect with a smile and try maintaining eyes contain during your discussions. That tells the prospect that you are confident and serious.
  5. Take Nothing Personal – Always Learn to Say ‘Thank You’. Protect your mind always. Never forget, you are playing a game where selling that product is your goal. Meanwhile, it is possible to meet ‘negative buyers’. These buyers are temperamental, ‘hard nut’ folks. You can’t ignore or avoid them. They may try to break you by seeing and highlighting only the negative sides of your products or your personality. Always let them know that you appreciate their sincere (though insincere) comments. You may then direct them to the positive sides of your products. But for comments that concern your dressing, posture or tones – tell them ‘Thank You’ and that you take their observation and would work on it.
  6. Always Leave Something Behind. Drop a sample, a business card, a paper work, or anything that the prospect can connect with. Someday, they may discover they need you, and that may be the only reference that would connect them to you.
  7. Always Let the Prospect Know You Value the Time Spent with Them. Even if they ended up not buying, reach back to let the prospect know you didn’t take the time spent with you for granted. You can do that by follow up mail or text. That is remarkable, and endearing. It keeps you in their hearts for as long as possible.

Above, all remember, not all buyers need to buy from you now. By being good during your first meetings, you lay a good foundation for a relationship that may develop into bringing you more money, and referrals in the future.

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