In noting similarities between two seemingly unrelated phenomena, analogies can be excellent problem solving tools. If common ground can be established between two distinct situations, solutions for problems in one can be applied to the other, thus providing clarity and enhanced understanding. Being a salesman and trying to set up appointments over the phone with potential clients is a lot like trying to get a date in a crowded bar. In both occasions you might find yourself having to navigate past gatekeepers, you have very little time to interest the other party in what you have to offer, charm and confidence are crucial assets, “closing” is the ultimate aim, humor helps and rejection hurts. But, there are techniques that can help anyone boost their game in both the dating and selling worlds.
When you spot a potential date you might find her surrounded by a group of friends – each one “protecting” her from you. The job of each of these friends is to make sure you don’t get an opportunity to speak with your desired date, so they do everything in their power to block you off. As guardians of the status quo, they would rather their friend remain single than have you take her out and show her a good time. This is almost certainly due to dormant insecurities, so when confronted with a situation like this it is important for you to charm the gatekeeper. Give them a little bit of attention and make them feel special. It goes a long way. If you find yourself speaking to a grouchy administrator or assistant when attempting to call a high level executive, make sure not to look past them. Show some respect, use humor and be charming. You might even get a referral out of it, and if you’re cold-calling this makes everything a bit warmer.
Now you’ve made it past the gatekeepers and you’ve got only a limited time to lay out the proposal. Talking to your potential date you ask all the right questions and attempt to draw similarities between her and you to boost interest levels. As a salesman, however, this part of the courting process should already be taken care of. Research your client before you even speak with them. Find out what they like and dislike. Figure out what their problems are and align these issues with what you have to offer. Use Linkedin to discover biographical details to establish common ground between the two of you. These techniques might classify you as a stalker in the dating world, but hey, isn’t that what Facebook is for?
As a salesman you know the ins and outs of what you are offering. You have supreme confidence that the service or product you’re selling will benefit your potential client significantly. So it is crucial to behave as if this were true. People say first impressions are everything, and exuding confidence in the first instance of meeting a potential date can not only shape her response to any proposal you make, but can also set the terms for any future engagements between the two of you. Even though you have a small window of time it is important not to speak too hastily, since this can betray a lack of confidence, cause confusion or force you to repeat yourself. Speak calmly and assuredly and smile – smiles are contagious even over the phone. Just as you would if you were flirting with someone, when the opportunity presents itself use humor to put a potential client at ease. This helps to remind them that yes indeed, you are actually a human being, and they will treat you as one over the phone. When you lay out the value-proposition make sure to anticipate any objections you might face and react accordingly. Just as you would with a date, be assertive and decisive.
4. Future Engagement
You’ve got past the gatekeepers, you had a phenomenal conversation establishing common ground between the two of you and you delivered the proposition smoothly; but she can’t commit to a date anytime in the near future. You exchanged information though, and suddenly you find her calling the next day. Conventionality tells you to play hard to get to increase interest levels but this would be devastating to your cause. Get in contact with the potential client as soon as possible. Waiting 30 minutes instead of 5 to respond to a call decreases your chances of reconnecting by 21 times according to a recent MIT study.
The dating and selling worlds are analogous, and techniques to navigate the former can be applied to the latter. Rejection is commonplace in both and it is very important not to be deterred from it. In both cases it can come down to a numbers game. Remember though, you have the utmost confidence in what you have to offer. So when faced with a particularly hard-boiled prospective dating partner or client it is vital to know that it will always be their loss should they choose not to engage with you. Good luck.