Imagine, if you will, that you’re an executive of a company beginning a meeting with a salesperson you have never met before. They come in, shake your hand, and immediately reference an activity you enjoy that they had no way of knowing, even from the items in your office. The salesperson who knows too much about you then invites you on a trip to participate in said activity with them. At this point, you’re terrified, or at least a little uncomfortable, right?
That’s an example Sharon Gillenwater, writing for SellingPower, gives when highlighting the difference between being well-prepared for a sales meeting and being invasive in your research. Yes, researching a prospect on social media and the internet in general can seem a little like stalking during the process, but you never, EVER, want to let on that you know personal things about your prospect before you’ve officially met them.
You shouldn’t avoid finding potential conversation starters, though. Just be graceful when incorporating them into your meeting. After all, connecting on a personal level is one of the best ways to make a prospect feel comfortable with you and more likely to make purchases from you. Gillenwater gives the example of a prospect who loves to go hiking. Instead of starting small talk with your knowledge of that personal fact, gradually lead the conversation in the direction of your findings. Notice a personal item in their office that could relate to the hobby and go from there.
You, noticing a picture of a dog on the prospect’s desk: “Is
that a picture of your dog? They’re so cute (or beautiful or other positive
Them: “Ah, yes. [Name], she’s this many years old.”
You: “Have you taken her to [trail you know of]? It has all these sights and is dog-friendly.”
Boom: A non-creepy in to a personal conversation.
So, continue to do your research and find information that can lead to a personal connection. But make sure you communicate it in a tactful way, because creepiness will cost you a sale.
Rachel is a Research Analyst, specializing in audience intelligence, at SalesFuel. She also helps to maintain the major accounts and co-op intelligence databases. As the holder of a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, Rachel helps the rest of the SalesFuel team with their writing needs.