Many people have shared with me that the pandemic has made selling more difficult. On some level, I think everyone would agree. There’s something important that happens when you’re in the room with someone to talk about doing business together. The words you speak and your body language form an impression for your prospects. You want to instill trust, the fact that you know what you are talking about and that you care.
I think we can also agree that the experience through a video conference call just isn’t the same. (Especially if the person on the other end of the call chooses to leave their video turned off. That happens for the sales teams at some of my clients.)
If you’re with me so far, then you know you’ve got a limited window of opportunity to make an impression. And the methods we have right now for creating that impression might not be as effective as meeting for coffee or in their conference room… so your first steps really matter.
The people I see succeeding in sales right now have something in common. They lead with excitement about the opportunity to work together. They start with relationship. Then they establish trust by sharing personal stories. After talking about the opportunity, they’re open and honest about things that will work if the decision is made to move forward and things that might be an issue to overcome together. (And if it’s a showstopper, they’re honest about that as well.)
When I talk with potential blogging clients for the first time, I’ve done my homework. I look them up on LinkedIn and review their website. I usually start my conversations with a reminder of how we connected in the first place. Was it a referral? A peer I’ve been connected with for years and it’s finally time to tell their stories? It’s a great starting point.
Next, I mention the people we know in common. Often, these are existing customers or really good friends in peer advisory groups that I’ve known for years. I can talk at length about any of the mutual connections I plan to share. It immediately establishes trust… I’ve seen it time and time again. There’s no question that we all have a reputation in the cities that we work in. Hopefully you have a reputation for being fair, honest and capable. I hope your company has that same reputation… you probably wouldn’t be working there otherwise. Leverage that. You’ve worked hard to earn that reputation and your mutual connections will vouch for you.
I talk about the benefits and the process of storytelling through blogging. I can’t help but be excited… I wouldn’t be meeting with them if I didn’t see a great opportunity. (Internally, I feel like it’s a HUGE opportunity which fuels the genuine excitement I have when we’re talking.) Many of you know that I have an information technology background. This translates into an efficient blogging process that happens every month, taking the bulk of the work off of their plates. I make the point that I am their accountability partner. That I’m going to become part of the team. That the monthly meetings become a team building exercise internally. And an important point I make is that it will be fun to work together.
And then I make sure to do a reality check. Will their team deliver on their homework assignments each month? Do they have people with stories to share? And will they be motivated and make time to share those stories? The blogging team we put together has to meet me in the middle to make it all work.
The last step is to wrap up and summarize what we’ve talked about. I talk about the potential impact this process will have on their employees, prospects and clients. And I show them other clients in town successfully doing exactly what I’m talking about.
When you engage with someone on a personal level, then determine where they’re currently at and where they’re trying to go, and finally paint a picture of how you can help them get there, the decision is usually a yes if the numbers are right. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds early on if you bring out the catalog of products and services. Dig in first. Invest the time in the relationship, even if that means you have to set up a second meeting.
The relationships you build this way will stay with you for your entire professional career. And during this crazy pandemic, the depth of those relationships may help you overcome the challenges of Zoom based sales calls. Good luck out there!