10 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR PROSPECTS LIKE YOU ENOUGH TO BUY FROM YOU
By Bill Lee
Buyers buy from people they like.
The only possible exception occurs when buyers have no choice but to do business with a particular salesperson or a particular company. Perhaps the company manufacturers or sells a proprietary product or service. Perhaps the buyer’s preferred vendor is out of stock and the buyer has to go elsewhere to service his or her customer. There are probably several other reasons I could think of, but these are rare exceptions, not the rule.
As I said above, people by and large do business with people they like. I would even go so far as to say that people go out of their way NOT to do business with people that they DON’T like.
Some call this system the “good old boy” system and say that it’s not fair. I disagree. I believe that it is everyone’s right to do business with whomever they choose. If how much buyers like a particular salesperson is the criteria they choose -- well, it’s their money and they can spend it wherever and with whomever they wish.
As the salesperson, it’s your job to make prospects like you better than they like the salesperson they currently do business with. If prospects like your competitor better than they like you, whose fault is it? I believe it’s your fault! If 99.9% of buyers do business with people they like, then your skill level at getting your prospects to like you better than they like your competitor is certainly as important if not more important than all of the other skills a top producing salesperson must possess.
Techniques to Get Prospect to Like You
1. Put the prospect’s interests above your interests. Never be so desperate for an order that you will make a sale when it would be in the customer’s best interest to purchase another product from another salesperson. When a meeting planner calls me to discuss speaking at, say, the company’s managers conference, I always quiz the meeting planner to make sure that I am the best speaker for the job. If I’m not – if I know of a speaker that would provide more value than I can provide – I do my best to guide the meeting planner in the direction of the more appropriate speaker. When prospects see you putting their interests ahead of your own, you all of a sudden become better liked and better respected.
2. Remember the Platinum Rule. No, I’m not confusing my precious metals. The Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Platinum Rule© says, “Do unto others as THEY would have you do unto THEM.”
There’s a big difference between these two rules. One focuses on you and what you like, while the other focuses on your prospects and that THEY like. Another way of putting it might be to say:
“Treat your prospects like they like to be treated.”
“Talk to your prospects about the kinds of topics that they like to talk about.”
3. Dedicate time to researching your prospects.
Learn a lot about your prospects likes and dislikes, pet peeves, interests, hobbies, hot buttons, etc. The more you know about a person, the better position you’re in to apply the Platinum Rule, earn their respect and make them look forward to your visits.
A few years ago, my daughter was sales manager for Nextel in Charlotte. One day she called me from the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “What are you doing at a race,” I asked her in amazement that she would be spending her Saturday at race track.
“As you know, dad, most of my customers here are home builders and every time we’re together, all they seem to talk about is NASCAR racing. If I’m going to have a chance of beating out my competitors in this market, I’m going to have to be able to participate in conversations that include NASCAR. That’s why I’m here.
Personally, I love Atlanta Braves baseball, but when I work in Philadelphia or New York, I don’t find a groundswell of interest in the Atlanta Braves. In fact, the baseball fans in the northeast seem to be pretty tired of the Braves winning the Eastern Division year after year. So when I am talking to prospects in those markets, it behooves me to learn a little bit about the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Mets and Yankees.
4. Smile a lot. Never complain.
Almost everyone likes a person who is happy and easy to be around. Almost no one enjoys being around a person who is always having a bad day or who is a persistent complainer. When a customer or prospect asks you how you’re doing, get in the habit of answering, “Terrific.”
5. Look for something that is worthy of a compliment and point it out to the prospect.
The rule is that the compliment must be sincere. The prospect will see through an insincere compliment in a heartbeat. Study the prospect’s business well enough to find something that this company is doing better than similar companies you know about. First of all, when you identify something specific a prospect is doing that is worthy of a compliment, you will come across as an astute observer. Second, you will make the prospect feel ten feet tall.
6. Employ Customer Care tactics.
If your conversation with a prospect uncovers that the decision maker is a big Pittsburgh Steeler fan, go to the Amazon.com Web site and peruse the books that have been written about the Steelers. Find one you can afford – not too expensive and not too cheap – and give a copy to the prospect on your next call. Say something like, “I ran across this book and thought about you. I sure hope you enjoy it.” Be sure to jot a short note in the front of the book so the prospect will remember who gave it to him.
Customer care tactics are endless. The better you get to know each prospect, the more effective you’ll be at identifying small gifts, magazines, articles, etc., that the prospect will appreciate. (As you practice #3 above, you’ll find more opportunities to use Customer Care tactics.)
7. Help a prospect solve a problem.
We all have pressing problems that drive us nuts. Anyone who can bring us a proven and workable solution will be forever appreciated. Once you have earned the right to ask this kind of question, say to your prospects: “I do my best to be not just a salesperson to my customers and prospects, but also to be a problem solver. If you will share with me a business problem that is eating at you, I will do everything in my power to bring you a couple of ideas to help you solve the problem.”
The is the best way to earn an order and to make a prospect really like and also regard you as a business partner.
8. Be humble, always give credit to others for any success you enjoy.
Only Ted Turner and a handful of celebrities can get away with arrogance. No one – and I mean no one – likes a blowhard; that is, someone who is quick to give himself credit when things go great and blame others when things go poorly.
The self-demeaning statement is powerful at making customers and prospects like you. Here’s an example of a story a salesperson recently told a prospect on a sales call:
“I am the luckiest salesperson on the planet. Yesterday, I was driving down the highway when my cell phone rang. I recognized the number as that of one of my biggest prospects. As I was flipping open the phone to answer it, I dropped the phone and it rolled under the driver’s seat. I could hear the prospect yelling into the phone as I pulled over to the side of the road to retrieve it from under my seat. By the time I got to the phone, he had hung up. Of course, I called him back immediately. When I told him what happened, he laughed himself silly, just before he finally gave me a huge initial order. I felt like I really dodged a bullet. I had been calling on this prospect for over a year.”
What did telling this story do for the salesperson? It make him look “human.” He obviously had enough confidence in himself to tell a story that might have made him look like a klutz to his prospect. It had a happy ending. He got the point across that he was persistent, committed and diligent in pursuing a key prospect.
9. Be appreciative. Show respect. Be courteous.
Always write a thank you note when a prospect gives you an appointment, gives you your first order, gives you a specific obstacle you must overcome, etc. Thank you notes are so rare among salespeople that you can really set yourself apart in an extremely positive way by taking time to write one.
10. Show your prospect how to make more money.
This is my favorite, so I saved it for last. I personally like people who through their suggestions put more money in my pocket than I would have had without their input. Back when I was in purchasing, a vendor invited me to an educational program whereby I had a an opportunity to listen to some of the brightest and sharpest business experts present. This was one of the most beneficial days I had ever spent and it didn’t cost me one nickel. The vendor asked nothing in return. But it was the vendor’s way of gaining my favorable attention and making me genuinely appreciate that company in a way I had not appreciated them in the past.
I hope these techniques will benefit each subscriber to this electronic newsletter.
For more information on Bill Lee and his books, go to Bill’s new Web site: www.BillLeeOnLine.com
Bill’s new book, 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot is now available for purchase, along with a deck of 30 Mem-Cards that serve as reminders to managers of each of the 30 most common mistakes managers make.