Relationship building with a sales prospect is a myth

My last post on Pharma Sales Storytelling concluded that Relationship and Features & Benefits Storytelling were 2 key areas of focus for product sales people. In this post I will dig deeper into Relationship Sales Storytelling.

Relationship is a meaningful word used loosely in a sales environment.

In 2009 I was working as a Director of Sales in Australia and one of  the things we did before going in to a meeting with a prospect was to write down desired outcomes from the meeting . Building Relationship was always one of the desired outcomes. Today, I look back and question that. When you are meeting a prospect for the first time there is no way you can immediately build a relationship. A relationship is a profound emotion and takes time to build. Somehow we tell ourselves we can achieve that in one meeting!

So, what can we do when we are meeting the client for the first time?

Always remember that the fact you are in sales has already made the client think, “God! what does he/she want to sell me ?” One of my previous blogs talks about baggage with the word sales.

This is a step by step guide of what I do when I meet my clients for the first time

What do you know about the person and organisation that you can use?

Interview StorytellingMost research on individuals is limited to Linked in.I suggest in addition a wider google search.  Last week before going into a meeting with Legal counsel of a MNC I did a google search on the client and found out that he had done his masters in arts ( unusual for a legal counsel) and law . I used this information to choose the stories I would tell in the meeting.

 Interview storytellingFor organisations, websites and twitter are 2 places where I focus mostly on. Websites have links to most information you would need. One of my fav section in websites is LATEST NEWS ( if available). Last year, just before going in to meet the client I checked the company’s twitter account which gave me the perfect opening for my conversation, the company had won “best women employer award”.

After your research you will either find something in common with the person/ organisation or you may not. Lets say you find something in common…

I have something in common I build a connection with

Relationship storytelling

If you happen to find anything in common between you and the client or you and the organisation, its time to build connection using that commonality. I recently met a client who is interested in running and so am I. So, we spoke a lot about that. On another occasion recently I presented to a company for whom I had run a campaign in 2011. So, that was good place to start the conversation.

Now, the other possibility is that you do not find anything in common…

I don’t know of anything in common but I can build likability

Sales Storytelling

Earlier this week I attended a conference – Break the Ceiling Touch the Sky and the host of the conference Anthony Rose came across  extremely likeable

So, what did he do that made him likeable ?

Whilst conducting the panel, Anthony constantly shared remarkable stories about the panelists that he had researched.

So, lets apply this learning to a sales setting you have researched and found remarkable stories about the company. Highlighting these stories can be used to build likability.

I remember presenting to Swarovski in 2011 and I had found out that every 2  seconds in this world somewhere a Swarovski crystal is sold. So, I actually started my presentation by saying, ” If I finish presenting today in the allocated 30 mins by the time I finish we would have sold 900 more Swarovski crystals. Wow! every 2 secs there is a Swarovski Crystal sold somewhere in the world!”

So, the key is research and focus on the customer.

After your first meeting with client the majority of the time we walk away with a deliverable which could be a proposal, a case study or something you need to send. This is your opportunity to build likeability and you can do it by saying to the client when would you deliver.  Please be specific. Don’t say shortly, soon, tomorrow but build likeability by saying a specific time like 3 PM tomorrow and stick to it. Daniel H Pink in his book To Sell is Human The Surprising Truth about Moving others mentions that Granular numbers are more credible than coarse numbers.

You can see from the above examples your best chance to succeed is by focusing on

Storytelling Singapore building a connection by finding a commonality or building likability

Storytelling Singapore by coming across as well researched and delivering as promised.

Instant relationship building with a sales prospect is a myth. A great sales person understands that if they stayed focused on research, connection, likability and delivering the promise, relationship building will happen naturally.


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