Dating and sales both require social skills, being vulnerable to rejection, and putting yourself outside your comfort zone. The biggest difference between the two is that in dating you only need to find one person with whom you truly connect. Those who work in sales have to nurture existing relationships and find new ones every day to be successful. There’s no point in sales at which you are done, and can exist off your past work. It can be an emotional roller coaster, whether searching for “the one,” or constantly cultivating a stream of new business. These 6 dating tips from Lendistry’s CEO, Everett K. Sands, will help you hone your relationship skills in both your personal, and professional, lives.
1) Make a Good First Impression
Dating coaches stress the importance of making a good first impression. Their advice is often to smile, listen attentively, and make eye contact, which are also all good things to do at a first meeting with a prospective client. But, most first impressions in sales are done by phone or email. Apply the same concepts to your conversation or message. Be friendly, keep your thoughts focused, and personalize it to the person you are communicating with so they feel important.
If you schedule a call or meeting, confirm the details a day in advance. For calls, make sure the phone number is confirmed, and know who is calling whom and if you are not using a conference call service. At the scheduled day and time, make sure to be a little early. You cannot be late when people are doing you the favor of meeting you to hear about your business proposal. After the meeting, make sure to follow up with a thank you and with any additional information you might have promised. If the first meeting doesn’t convert to an immediate sale, remember a good first impression may still pay off. The potential client may reach out at another time, or refer you business in the future.
2) Don’t Overthink the First Date
Prior to a first date, one might already be thinking ahead to what their parents will think of their new partner, how their names sound together, or where they will honeymoon. Someone else might approach a first date with dread, knowing before dinner even starts that the person is not going to work out. Don’t overthink a first call or meeting with a prospective client.
Focus on connecting with the person, don’t focus on the sale. If you know ahead of time you have something in common, like you went to the same college, follow the same sports team, or know a friend or colleague of theirs, mention it to create a sense of camaraderie. When you speak about your proposal, come from a place of offering value. Interject useful tips, words of encouragement, or helpful anecdotes from similar situations that a client might appreciate in addition to making your sales pitch. Making genuine connections with other people is the success, getting more business is the by-product.
3) Be the Kind of Person You Would Want to Date
Most people have experienced bad dates. The other person spoke about their exes, talked about themselves non-stop, or spent the whole date glued to their phone. Don’t be someone’s bad date story. Speaking intelligently and concisely are strong communication skills when making a pitch, but don’t lose yourself in the spiel. Speak from your heart, and let your personality come through.
Often when potential clients don’t see much of a difference between competing businesses, they do business with the person they like better. People do business with those they’d have a beer with. Relationships are about trust, and while that takes time to build, there has to be a feeling of sincerity in the beginning. Aggressive selling, or repeating a sales pitch by rote, does not connote sincerity. Speaking from a place of earnest belief in what you’re selling, being yourself, and having a genuine desire to help clients will create a lasting impression, and hopefully a loyal client base.
4) You Can Learn to Be Outgoing
Not everyone is comfortable going up to a stranger at a bar or making cold calls to potential clients. For most people, the mere thought makes their hearts race, and their stomachs turn. It’s difficult to become outgoing when there’s a desired outcome for your interactions, like getting someone’s phone number, or getting their business.
Practice your cold calling skills by engaging in brief conversations in your everyday life. Make it a point to strike up a conversation with one new person each day. Talk to the mailman, the person at the checkout counter, or a neighbor or coworker you’ve never talked to before. If you’re uncomfortable speaking to people with whom you have no vested interest, you won’t get very far on a sales call.
Engage people in a brief conversation every chance you get, so when you approach someone at a bar, or make a cold call, it will feel natural. You may have something at stake, but if you’ve already spoken to half a dozen strangers that day, it’s just another casual conversation that might conclude with a great result. Making conversations with strangers part of your daily routine will create a more confident and natural speaking style.
5) Expand Your Dating Pool
Everyone uses Salesforce, and other lead generating tools, just like singles use the same dating apps. But reliance on technology can make people complacent and uninspired. Mix up your routine by expanding your pool of potential clients.
Start by asking friends, family, and past and current clients for referrals. Calling a client and asking for business referrals might be a bit blunt, so finesse it by letting them know about a new product or service offering, and see if they know of anyone who might be interested. Entire businesses can be built on referrals, but unless you ask for them, your connections might not think to offer them.
Meetup.com is a great place to look for free networking groups in your area. Other organizations like BNI and MasterMind Groups, can be a steady source of referrals if you make the commitment to be a productive member. Sponsoring events with local small business associations or community groups, and volunteering for nonprofits can also be good ways to meet prospective clients and introduce your business to people in your area.
Businesses use social media because everyone else does, but they rarely take advantage of its power to make new connections. Try seeking out businesses that might be a good fit. Follow them, comment on their posts, and engage in conversations. Just posting content on your own pages and hoping someone will contact you, is too passive. Take the initiative to reach out to potential sales leads and introduce yourself and your company.
Traditional sources of sales leads work, but you might be missing out on greater success by not exploring opportunities in other areas. Dating coaches often tell singles to join multiple dating websites and apps, as well as asking friends to set them up, and going out to bars and social events. Relying on one source for leads limits your success. Sales, like dating, is a numbers game. The more connections you make, the greater success you’ll have.
6) Rejection is a Part of Dating
There’s a saying, “there’s no growth on a good day.” If you get rejected by a date, or a prospective client, allow yourself to feel the hurt, then let it go, and try again. Like all things, the more it happens the better you get at it. When you get better at handling rejection, you’ll stop fearing it, and you’ll notice it happens less and less.
If you do a lot of cold calling, you will likely get far more people saying no, than yes. When possible, politely ask the person why they said no. In the dating world, rarely does anyone ask why when they get rejected. But, if you could get an answer and your date simply says, “I’m just not that into you,” you would save yourself a lot of time in negative thoughts about how you’re not fit enough, attractive enough, or smart enough. Or possibly, you would discover there had been some sort of miscommunication that happened on a date that could be cleared up. In sales, it’s much easier to ask for feedback.
If you ask a sales lead why they said no, at best you give yourself a chance to salvage the relationship, and at least get a chance to improve your product or service. Maybe there’s an objection you can address, and still convert the business. If you can’t handle the objection, keep track of why a potential client declined to work with your company. Keep a journal or spreadsheet of why a sales lead turned you down, and see if any pattern arises. Maybe there’s something you can change to address the problem. If you can’t, the data might help you focus your market on leads more likely to say yes.
Analyzing what works, and what doesn’t, takes some of the emotion out of the rejection. Think of rejection as an opportunity to do market research, and understand the needs of your potential clients. Sales, like dating, is a skill largely learned by trial and error. View rejection as an opportunity to learn and improve.
It’s hard to believe “it’s about the journey, not the destination,” when your heart, or livelihood, is at stake. But fixating on the end goal can unwittingly impede your success. Take time to build your confidence and social skills by implementing these tips into your daily routine. As you become more comfortable connecting with people, you’ll find success in both your personal and professional lives comes naturally.