(and everyday life too)
Ever left a meeting with no contract signed, but a firm handshake and a promise to read over your carefully prepared proposal? You left feeling good at first, the same kind of high you had after that weekend long conference, that had you jumping up and down and singing kumbaya with the strangers seated beside you.
Just like those weekend conferences, the high fades, and you are left with the sinking realization that the meeting did not go as planned. You ask yourself “where did I go wrong?”
Listen First, Pitch Second
A potential client has a problem, and they want someone, anyone to help them fix it – but they can’t find anyone to tell it to. One of the biggest mistakes that salespeople make is walking into a room and treating the client like their audience, telling them about their awesome product, and how they should (if they were smart, which of course they are) immediately sign on the dotted line.
Hold on. Wait a minute.
Who is sitting across the table from you? What are their worries? What makes them stay up and work till all hours of the morning, when they could be catching some “zzz’s”?
Too late. You started talking, and they stopped listening. In their minds, you are too concerned about yourself than to consider taking the load off their shoulders.
Rewind the clock, lets start again.
Listen to your clients, and then repeat back what you believe you heard. You have an awesome solution to share with them, but you need to tailor your position based off of the mutual understanding of their needs. It’s about relieving a burden and adding value to a seemingly hopeless situation.
Identify a mutually held set of beliefs. When I say beliefs, I don’t mean whether or not you agree that the world is round; it is a set of assumptions on what is important, and whether or not your opinions align with theirs. For example, is the client measuring impressions, visits, or opt-ins to a campaign? How do they measure value and success?
With this information in mind, you can build your pitch or solution on a solid foundation of mutual understanding.
Your proposal may never be read by listening first either, but you’ll probably be leaving with it signed anyways.
Relationships sign contracts, not snazzy one-liners and perfectly timed zingers. Relationships.
by Brienne Torley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.