With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it seems appropriate to take a fresh look at prospecting.  After all, isn’t it sales and marketing’s constant function to ask others, “Will you be my Valentine?”

Darling Prospect, Will you be Mine?

The Valentine’s Day-Prospecting love connection light bulb went off in my head as I was listening to a terrific podcast from Dr. Bob Cialdini, best selling author and speaker on the science of influence.  In this podcast, Cialdini uses the pharmaceutlcal sales scenario as a backdrop for describing his thoughts on how sellers can get prospects interested faster.  I don’t have any drug firm clients, but I can easily see how his expertise can be applied to on-boarding or “in-boarding” sales and marketing teams in other verticals.
So, here are my notes.  Think of this as a modern day roadmap to winning the hearts and minds of your prospects.
1) To build trust quicker –
– Open with a negative or a drawback of your offering. Shows you are willing to be truthful and establishes yourself as both trustworthy (giving the straight scoop) and knowledgeable.  You are willing to share data that you understand.
– Frame what your stuff does in terms of what your prospect will miss out on, rather than what they will gain. The idea of losing benefits is more powerful than the idea of gaining the benefit in minds of buyers. People would rather protect what they have than work to achieve a gain.
– Use social proof – your offering’s popularity – to show it’s worthwhile. Below the surface, people actually make judgments based on what they perceive is going on around them. “Our most chosen dessert” attracts even more buyers. This is “social proof” of what constitutes proper conduct. So, if you have popularity – USE IT.
– Feature and benefit selling is important, but it’s old school. Today, science shows that we respond to what we perceive should be a better product based on price/popularity/other externalities. We experience things based on context. Prospects stop critiquing – actually turn off that portion of the brain – when they hear statements backed up by popular assent or experts.
2) People say yes to people they trust and like. So, how do we develop relationships quickly?

  • Find similarities.
  • Give honest praise, genuine compliments.
  • Come to like your customer, first. That’s when people feel safe, when they feel liked. They will feel their interests are protected, so they are more likely to follow your recommendations. Don’t try to first try to make someone like you until you’ve tried to like them.

Hmm, seems like good advice for Valentine’s Day, too!
Good Selling.