Today’s Lesson: “Social” Selling

No, this is not another post on using online sites like LinkedIn to build your pipeline. Rather, I want to talk about my friend Mitch (real person, fake name). Mitch is looking for love. He’s a good guy. Works hard, takes care of himself, and is a true mensch. Over the years, I’ve lived vicariously through the ups and downs of his love life, trying to support him.

Why am I telling you about Mitch? No, I’m not pivoting to match-making, but I do want to talk about your social life.

This year among other things, I’ve taken on two coaching clients who have the express goal of improving their business development efforts. These engagements have reminded me that the early stage dating scene which Mitch is not shy about going through is very similar to early business development conversations. The same goes for other areas of your social life, like making new friends.

Of course, right? But why? Let’s explore.

In both social and business situations, the participants wonder:

  • Can I trust this person?
  • Do they understand me, my needs?
  • Will they help me achieve my goals?
  • Does it make sense for us to connect on a deeper level?

With this in mind, I asked Mitch two questions:

1) What are you looking for in a first date?

2) What are you trying to get across on a first date?

He answered very quickly as though it was something that he had already considered. Like a good sales manager, he has prepared his sales person (him) for the expected conversations – both positive signposts and disqualifying potholes. In a sense he has an idea about his “Ideal Customer Profile” and his “Key Differentiators”. Being a professional salesperson means being thoughtful and purposeful about every selling activity. Mitch at the very least is being thoughtful in how his initial dates proceed. It’s commendable.

I’ll share with you my thoughts on some of his answers now. At the end, I’ll include his entire response.

Things I’m [Mitch] looking for in a first date (non-physical):

  1. Is she intelligent—does she get humor that requires higher intellect?

Mitch wants to see if he can connect with someone on a high intellectual level. Similarly, sellers need to quickly figure out if they are having sales conversations with a person/key player who understands the goals, objectives, challenges and issues your offerings address, and will she be able to grasp why you think they are missing out. Are you on the same high level.

  1. Does she laugh at my bad jokes—if she doesn’t, she won’t like me long term, because it’s who I am, and most women want a guy who makes them laugh.  

This actually worries me about Mitch AND early sales conversations. While I applaud the “authenticity” movement in sales and business, at times we can be “over-sharers” too early. Remember my thoughts on rapport: One step back and over the shoulder. Consider holding off on the bad jokes until you are absolutely sure they will be received positively. Alternatively, let her tell the first bad joke. Let her appreciate your other fine traits. Think of this as staying in alignment with the prospect’s buying process.

Or if you feel you must tell her bad jokes – or go somewhere potentially uncomfortable in a sales conversation – don’t think it fatal when she doesn’t laugh. Rather, understand where “bad jokes” fit into her set of needs? You may be overvaluing “appreciation of bad jokes” in her and your decision-making criteria. While she may not laugh, she may not mind because your other traits overwhelm your silly sense of humor.   The same may be the case with a prospect’s buying requirements. But again, be careful here.

  1. Is she knowledgeable about current events–If she is not, she is not mindful of issues that I would care about and want to engage in with a significant relationship. 

Ah, the disqualification criteria. For early sales situations, this is paramount. A good way to drive a company into the ground is to chase prospects that can NEVER be successful implementing your offerings.   Second place in a poker hand is the player who folds earliest, not the losing hand at the showdown. So, put a lot of thought into your dating and prospecting disqualifiers before that first encounter.

What I [Mitch] am trying to get across to a first date:

  1. I’m a good listener.

Absolutely, and probably why we are friends. I don’t think Mitch knew at the time – he’s never mentioned reading my blog or business emails – that every SalesReformSchool engagement of mine includes an “Active Listening” component. Success as a sales professional demands good listening skills – it’s the best building block for building trust. Without good listening skills you are either incredibly lucky or relying on others to do your job. Good listening is a life skill. And after 26 years of marriage, I’ve learned that good listening skills are required for deep personal relationships. Same with business.

  1. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. 

The negative stereotypes around sales all revolve around this idea. Don’t over promise. Don’t exaggerate your capabilities. If you make a promise or commitment, fulfill it.

So, consider being like Mitch and improving your “Social Selling.” Prepare and be thoughtful about your early stage sales conversations.  And by the way, Do you know any eligible women age 40-60? Kidding. Sort of. Here, now is his reply in full.

To:  Adam Shapiro

From: Mitch

5 things I’m looking for in a first date (non-physical):

  1. Is she intelligent—does she get humor that requires higher intellect
  2. Does she laugh at my bad jokes—if she doesn’t, she won’t like me long term, because it’s who I am, and most women want a guy who makes them laugh.  
  3. Is she knowledgeable about current events–If she is not, she is not mindful of issues that I would care about and want to engage in with a significant relationship. 
  4. Is she a foodie?  if she is, she will hate me, because I am so not. 
  5. Can she tolerate political incorrectness–I am that way, and want someone who will not be offended by my commentary. 

 (physical)

  1. in shape
  2. physically attractive to me, and finally
  3. simply feeling that chemistry which is not easily characterized but involves all factors.

 What I am trying to get across to a first date:

  1. I’m a good listener.
  2. I mean what i say and I say what I mean. 
  3. My real personality–so they know who i am and if they don’t like it, we won’t waste our time
  4. My love of sports, talking politics, and the importance of my friends. 
  5. My need for a partner who is physically active and will share in activities with me. 

SalesReformSchool: Food for Thought

Unless you are a hermit, at some point you are going to have to make a good first impression. It’s true in dating (ask Mitch) and it’s true in business. So, read this Inc. post to learn about the 4 H’s – No Humblebragging, Hubris, Hypocrisy, and [Back]Handed compliments. Do that, and you’ll ratchet up the probability of a successful first impression.

SalesReformSchool: Extracurricular

IMG_0053

The first thing we try to do when visiting a new city is a bike tour. We find it a great way to learn the local history, culture and geography. We did two this summer in Iceland – one in Reykjavik and the other exploring the Lake Myvatn area near Akureyri. They were terrific.  Can’t find a tour. Here are the most bike friendly cities in the USA. At any rate and as the song goes: Get on Your Bike and Ride!

 

 

Through SalesReformSchool, I help individuals, teams and enterprises improve sales performance.

Posted in Building Trust, Champion, Networking, Prospecting, Qualifying, Sales Process

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: