How often do your sales pursuits go cold? Do your nearly-closed opportunities ever drift to a silent stop? The prospect may have given you a reason that sounded legitimate, but was that really the reason, or was it because you didn’t have a good grasp of their needs? So often my clients tell me that when their client turned cold, the entire opportunity froze. Business is tough, and the work you do is important, but try not to get too cerebral and lose the opportunity. The next time you’re in hot pursuit of a big opportunity, turn up the softer side of business development and warm up your chances for sealing the deal.* Think about the following:
• Show passion. When a potential client makes a statement that could possibly signal an obstacle, listen intently, show that you can relate to what they’re saying, and empathize. Discuss, for instance, how you have assisted other clients in overcoming that same issue. Use poignant examples.
• Dig deeper. Often only the surface objection comes out, or the prospect gives an excuse that is easier to talk about than their real concern. Demonstrate your interest, ask more questions, and learn more about them, the specifics of the opportunity, and their needs. Find out what the real issue is; that way, you can properly address their concerns.
• Stay involved. If your prospect steps away, give them space and respect their choice. However, be proactive in thinking of them and their needs. Send them updates central to their goals, indicate that you care. Truly care. Don’t simply go through the motions.
• Build the relationship. Get to know your prospect, discover common points of interest, learn their history, and know where they’ve been so that you can better understand where they are now and where they need/want to go. Take a time-out from your hot pursuit and spend time getting to know them and what matters to them. This will help now and later.
• Be genuinely nice. You always need to be a diplomat, especially in a sophisticated selling process. The expression ”you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” is true. If you aren’t pleasant, no one will want to be around you – much less do business with you. Being genuine is important, because artificial can be smelled from a mile away.
Warm up your targets with your right brain’s talents. Done correctly, soft is actually a very smart approach.
* Know when to say when if someone really doesn’t want or need your service or offering. Some ”opportunities” just aren’t worth pursuing.