I attended an awesome talk at the Bowie Business Innovation Center titled “7 Ways to Turn a Prospect into a Customer” run by Thomas Ellis of EWC Consultants.

Overall the talk was very insightful, filled with practical examples and actionable takeaways.  About midway through the talk, I picked up on a trend after Thomas made a reference to matchmaking, in that sales is just like dating.

SALES IS LIKE DATING

In general, you are looking to build a relationship not just get in their pants (likened to making a quick sale).  The prospect/date needs to first get to know you before they like you, then hopefully trust you.  Without that, you aren’t going to be very successful.

Below are some of the parallels I’ve identified that work as good advice in both cases.

1.  Don’t get right to the point

Asking “Are we going to do this or what?” or “Do you want to come home with me?” are as bad as just saying “You ready to buy?”

Both of you know what you are after, but there is no point to just going straight for what you want, you come off as disingenuous and forward.

2.  Ask more about them vs. talking about yourself

Show your interest in the other person.  This isn’t the time to show off and talk about how great you are.  People don’t want to hear that and most people like to talk about themselves, so help your prospect do it.

If you can find a way in interjecting a little about who you are that peaks their interest, then great, but be aware so you don’t run away with the conversation by just talking about yourself.  (if their eyes wander like they are trying to find a reason to get away or glaze over in boredom… try to bring it back to them)

3.  Be memorable

Find a way to stand out.  Maybe it’s an off-beat comment on the decor at the venue or some food you can’t stand.  It’s OK to have a canned thing about you that makes you unique that is a go to.  This helps in making your second contact to reference to so it (hopefully) brings back some familiarity and trust from your first conversation. Building relationships take time, by making your conversation memorable, you’ll get a good start on the process.

4.  Find something in common

What’s even better than finding a way to be memorable?  Finding a way to be memorable and finding something in common.  Genuinely sharing interests is a great way to establish trust.  It gives a talking point for both of you to move from.

5.  Ask open-ended questions

This plays right off of the “Ask more about them” tip.  Asking a question where you get a one line answer is not having a conversation.  For example, if you found out the prospect runs in races don’t ask “How often do you run?”  Instead, ask something like “What is your race day routine?”  Get the prospect talking and they will give you, even more, talking points and you are on your way to establishing something. This can certainly build up your relationship and building relationships is a great way to build up your customer advocacy.

6.  Ask the right questions

Avoid the negatives or questions that are obviously eluding to your intentions.  “Let’s talk about your pain points and how I can solve them” is like saying “Tell me about where your past dates have really screwed up so I can avoid them”.

Don’t make them feel like they are being sold vs helping them find a solution.  No date wants to feel like they have been sold or duped into some hype.  They want to feel like they’ve found someone that solves their problems.

7.  Pick up the phone

Don’t be afraid to talk and have a conversation on the phone.  It shows that you are taking the time to make that person a priority.  For dating, try to differentiate yourself and not “text” or FB message all your communications.   For sales don’t depend solely on email!

Messaging in text format loses something.  It loses some authenticity.  It definitively loses tone and intention with your words which only leads to miscommunication.

And if you are on the phone… don’t be multitasking.   Pay 100% attention!  (Making a call while driving doesn’t count, if anything it shows a lack of “taking the time”)

8.  Understand when it’s not a great fit

Read the signs on if the prospect thinks you are not a great fit.  If you see that early on, don’t be afraid to mention it and not press too hard.  They may not be a fit today so maintain your professionalism and you’ll seem more genuine.

You’ll earn more respect that way and maybe it will be a sale/relationship another day, or you may get referred to a friend / new lead

A tip to try

The next person you meet, only ask the other person questions about themselves and avoid talking about yourself whatsoever.  It will help you be aware of how hard it is.

Do you know more ways dating is like sales?  Leave them in the comments!

Posted by Joshua Ho

serial entrepreneur, technology consultant, software developer, angel investor, handball player. #bootstrap #leanstartup #startups