From blind dates to marriage, here are six lessons from the dating scene that will improve your sales results.
I’ve been married to the same man since Noah built the ark, so you’d expect me to be the least qualified person to write about the current dating scene.
The reality is… I feel like a modern-day “Dear Abby.”
Many of my friends and clients are back on the dating circuit for the second, third, even fifth time (!) and I seem to be the chosen confidante for their love-life highs and lows.
As I listen to their various match-making hits and misses my brain intuitively makes comparisons to the selling process. The parallels are noteworthy.
Here are six lessons from the dating scene that will improve your sales results.
Lesson 1: They’re not all marriage material.
A good friend is back on the dating scene for the first time in 16 years. The kids are grown up, she’s afraid of being alone, and she’s looking for the perfect guy.
Trouble is, every time she heads out to a first date she expects this one to be Mr. Right.
One of two things happens. Either she’s crushed when it doesn’t work out, or she invests way too much time with Mr. Wrong.
See the parallel to selling? If we are expecting to “marry” every sales opportunity we uncover we may be heading for disappointment.
Take the time to understand any lead/opportunity. Use your initial call to discover if you are a match and whether it’s a good investment of your time to take things to the next level.
Will it lead to a happy and productive long-term relationship, or are you better served to move on?
Lesson 2: There are two people in this relationship.
You’ve gotta love Jane. She’s turbo-charged when it comes to dating. If she meets a man she likes, she pursues him shamelessly.
Her credo: “Why waste time playing it cool when I see something I like?”
Hourly text messages, raunchy voice-mails and definitive “together plan” for every night of the week are all integral to her initial dating strategy.
There’s just one problem.
The guys on whom she showers all this attention become less and less responsive, then quietly disappear.
When sellers move at “warp speed” because they perceive a need, or see a hot opportunity, they sometimes neglect to notice that the client is at a different stage of the “buy cycle” and is looking to move at a more relaxed pace.
It’s all about perspective.
So if you want to attract and hang on to great prospects, you need to align yourself with where they are in their buying process.
Lesson 3: Don’t be a bad date!
Nothing sucks the life out of you more than being with a date that has a bad case of “all about me” syndrome. You know what I mean.
He drones on an entire evening about his work, his car, his problems, and his interests.
It doesn’t matter how fascinating someone is, you eventually tune out when the dialogue becomes a marathon monologue.
On the flip side, we are attracted to “great dates” who demonstrate a genuine interest in who we are, and who focus on what’s most important to us.
These conversations lead to love. And lead to everlasting love if we continue them throughout the lifespan of the relationship.
So if you want to stand apart from others and attract great customers, avoid the trap of delivering the traditional “features and benefits dump.” Don’t be a bore. Be a great date!
Lesson 4: Blind dates are risky.
I vividly remember a blind date I agreed to when I was 18 years old. I assumed because a friend had referred Clive, that he’d be a match made in heaven.
Within 20 minutes of meeting him, he proudly dropped his two front teeth out of his mouth to demonstrate the danger of high-speed motorcycle racing.
This was the highlight of the date. Clive was wrong for me in so many ways.
Not every referral is a good one. Do your homework before agreeing to a meeting.
Or have a well-prepared phone conversation before investing in face time.
Most importantly, make sure you provide a clear profile of your target customers when asking for referrals so you don’t get connected to a “Clive.”
Remember every mismatched blind date takes time away from a potentially hot one.
Lesson 5: Try out the new technologies.
I know people who are staunch advocates of online dating. Others won’t consider it. The concept intrigues me and, if I were single, I’d definitely sign on. But first I’d take these three important steps:
Do my homework to see which technologies meet my criteria and specific needs.
Talk to power-users of the technology to learn how to get the best outcomes.
Look for technologies that have proven results.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Skype are now everyday words in our sales vocabulary. And, every week, news of the latest sales technology hits our inbox.
Technology can accelerate, and focus, your networking, lead generation and prospect qualification activities – which ultimately enables you to have more face time with customers.
Are all technologies right for you? Not necessarily. But you won’t know until you explore them.
So keep an open mind and follow my three steps for online dating to decide which will provide you the optimal sales results.
Lesson 6: Know when it’s over.
One of my best buddies dated a slimeball (and I’m being kind) for over two years. The rest of us inwardly rolled our eyes and prayed for the end.
She was afraid of being alone or not finding anyone better. She didn’t realize that sticking with this guy guaranteed this.
Do you have a client relationship that has run its course and is no longer productive? Or, perhaps it never was productive.
Maybe it’s time to cut them loose so that you can focus on pursuing a more profitable and mutually satisfying business relationship.
Gutsy sales organizations have “fired” clients that represent bad business, and they have no regrets because they gain more time to focus on better deals.
About the author
For over twenty years, Jill Harrington was a globally respected sales leader and executive…