Regular readers know that my focus is on relationships, first and foremost.
Without a strong and trusting relationship the opportunity for business is happenstance at best. With a strong and trusting relationship, the opportunity for business is probable and sustainable.
A recent discussion with a group of Rainmakers focused on this very topic, specifically — "what are some old school sales myths that get in the way of building strong and trusting relationships"? Here are some of the more prominent ones we talked about:
1. Find a hook so the C-Level executive is impressed and invites you in. In today's crowded and competitive world, getting the attention of the C-level executive is tough. The myth is if you research their industry and have something current or relevant to share, then you can get their attention and an appointment.
2. Work the numbers — 100 prospects down to five proposals to two deals. Transactional selling is alive and well with this point of view. The myth is that the more you are out there, the greater your chance of getting the deals you want and the numbers you need.
3. Qualify a prospect up front so you don't waste your time. Know the key questions to ask to determine if someone is a valid prospect. Ask those questions right up front. That way you'll know if you should stay or you should go. The myth is unqualified prospects are a waste of time.
4. The secret to sales success is overcoming objections. The myth is that an objection is merely an opportunity to further point out why you are the best solution and to try again to close the deal. Objections are not point — counterpoint exercises.
5. Always be closing. This is a variation on the theme of overcoming objections, only this time with even more of a transactional approach driving the effort.
Every one of the myths listed above have one thing in common — they all focus on "what." They do not focus on "who." The "what" is a tactic, statistic or technique that hopefully gets one closer to the closing the sale.
A hook for C-Level executives focuses on a "trick" to get in the door. It doesn't focus on who is behind the door and how you can connect to that person. If you identify an industry trend that is relevant, and then connect your product or service to that trend, you think you have something the executive might be interested in hearing. The myth is that you think you have something they don't know. The reality is that if the trend is important enough, the executive already has a phalanx of people focused on it. The "hook" is a solution in search of a trusting relationship. Build the relationship first.
Working the numbers is purely a "what" exercise. Every deal is a transaction and pursuing enough transactions means something should fall out at the end. The reality is something will probably fall out, but it will probably fall out only once. A transactional, numbers-focused approach means you have to keep filling the funnel with new opportunities because there is usually little to no relationship that gets built. Transactions don't sustain, relationships do.
Qualifying prospects right up front perpetuates the myth that everyone is the same. You decide beforehand what your client should look like, and preclude any opportunity for creativity and innovation.
The myths of overcoming objections and always closing transform any semblance of a collaborative relationship into a joust. These myths are the most damaging because the client is continually on the defensive. The more you attempt to overcome objections, the higher the wall is built between you and the client.
Old-school sales myths emanate from a transactional, deal oriented starting point. The person and the relationship is merely a part of the process, they are not the focus of the process.
The relationship has to come first. Building a relationship builds trust. With trust established, opportunities for clients to buy from you naturally arise. Dispel the old school sales myth and become a rainmaker — focus on the person and the relationship first.
Author Ken Cook is founder and managing director of Peer to Peer Advisors and developer of the Rainmakers System. Reach him through the website www.peertopeeradvisors.com.