Does your sales goal consider that your top prospect does not care about your company? Does your sales quota depend on your marketing message reaching today’s cold-call client? Furthermore, have you considered that your product, in your prospect’s mind, is identical to your competitor’s? Sorry to introduce these humbling and troubling thoughts. But they’re intended to make you think more deeply about what you can and cannot control in your business day. Largely, the only control you have is that empathetic relationship you will build directly with your client today, tomorrow and next week.
Your sales goal must include advancing client connections
Every B2B salesperson plays the hand they are dealt. If you are fortunate, your marketing department will provide strong leads and has paved the way with an effective message of product capabilities. Tactically, your list of prospects can include repeat customers, high value referrals, warm leads, and cold calls. Regardless, it’s what you do to engage those individual prospects that makes the difference. Writer, Anthony Iannarino knows how to win deals in B2B sales. He also knows what NOT to do to meet your sales goal. In his article, Eight Rapport Building Mistakes that Cost You Deals, Iannarino lays out common missteps that undermine a seller’s best efforts when they have their shot at building client rapport. These blunders seem obvious, but you need to stand back and be assured you are not guilty of some of them in practice. For instance:
Insincere flattery — You cannot build trust if you are insincere in your approach. Placating a prospect by pretending to be someone you are not is dishonest. People sense deceit and trying too hard to force a relationship works against you.
Pushing an agenda – It’s inconsiderate to ignore your client’s timetable. Your sales goal is not the primary driver of every client consultation. Moreover, being too pushy makes your client skeptical and can be a deal killer. Pushing too hard ignores boundaries and is a sign of disrespect.
Assuming you have the solution – “Prescription without diagnoses is malpractice.” Making assumptions without proper vetting of the problem will destroy your credibility. The basic premise of discovery is to ascertain the problem and feel the pain of your prospect. Empathetically, you cannot assume you know what your prospect is thinking or feeling until you have the discussion and clearly understand their position.
Shifting from strategic narcissism to strategic empathy
The bad examples above have their origin in the outdated legacy sales process which Iannarino contends is broken. It was a linear process that does not hold up in today’s environment of the self-informed buyer. Instead, Iannarino addresses strategic narcissism and strategic empathy in sales. The two concepts, when juxtaposed, provide a unique perspective that may prove humbling and helpful. The author says the very definition of strategic narcissism “is to define challenges as we would like them to be while ignoring the agency that others have over our results.” Unsurprisingly, the real world and our sales goal will jerk us back to the truth. Further, Iannarino cites historian, Zachary Shore’s description of strategic empathy as “an effort to view the challenges and opportunities we face from the perspective of others.” This outward seeking view, as opposed to our inward-looking desire can make all the difference in meeting your sales goal.
The myth of control in sales
The present and future of the sales process will complicate the non-linear nature of its course. Players and stakeholders will come and go, and their priorities will shift. Buyers will continue to educate themselves and sellers will have to work to test and verify the truth of their discovery. The constant will be the rapport and the emotional connection you establish with clients while you build the trust to sustain your sales goal.
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