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Friday Faves: How much do you love your prospects?

Does it seem strange to use the word love when referring to a business relationship? Substitute another word if you prefer — “like,” for example, or “respect.”
However you want to express it, the point is to consider how much you care about the people you sell to — their needs, goals, desires, concerns — all the elements of their lives that might be involved in their decision about whether to buy from you.

How will I know…?

If you don’t love your prospects, they will know it. We’ve all been sold to by someone who didn’t care about us. The salesperson who pressures us to buy a car with options we don’t need. Or the telemarketer who launches into a lengthy script without asking if she’s interrupting our dinner. Or the guru who entices us to purchase a high-priced solution without bothering to find out whether it has any relevance to our situation. We can feel their disregard, and it turns us off.

On the flip side, you’ve probably had the pleasant experience of being sold to by someone who took the time to find out exactly what you needed, explored with you respectfully the match between what he had to offer and your desires, and allowed you to come to your own decision about the purchase. An experience like that not only makes you feel good about spending money, it makes you want to buy more from that person as soon as you can.

You know when people who are trying to sell to you care about you and when they don’t. You can sense it in what they say (and don’t say), the type of questions they ask (or don’t ask), how they listen to you (or don’t listen). You always know. And so do the people you are trying to sell to.

So how much DO you love your prospects?

Do you look forward to spending time with them, or dread going to places where they gather? Do you enjoy talking with them on the phone, or find reasons to avoid calling? Do you take pleasure in learning more about their problems and goals, or resent the time it takes? Do you try to sell them only what they need, or hope to sell them anything you can? Whichever it is, you can bet that your prospects know it.

I’m not suggesting that you truly dislike your prospective clients. It may be that talking to them just makes you nervous. Or that selling brings up the fear of rejection. Or that you’re so focused on making a sale, you’re not really seeing the person you’re selling to. Whenever we’re anxious, or afraid, or intent on our own goals, we tend to become self-absorbed or defensive. As a result, we may hold ourselves aloof, or talk too much, or stop listening, or disregard what others want.

But those are the very same behaviours that other people interpret as “not caring.” You’re uncomfortable or hyper-focused, so you withdraw from others, ignore them, or override them. They feel your disregard, so they react by pulling away from you. You feel them pulling away, so you either give up — and lose the sale because you’re avoiding them — or try even harder — and lose the sale because you’ve alienated them. It’s a self-defeating cycle.

There is a way to break this pattern, but it’s not a new set of skills to learn or techniques to try. It’s simple but not easy, subtle but incredibly powerful.

How to love your prospects:

  • Picture in your mind the ideal person to become your client — the sort of person you went into business to help.
  • Imagine the problems they are having and the issues they are struggling with.
  • Think about the goals they are working toward and the dreams that inspire them.
  • Visualize them getting what they want and need, and what that would mean to them.

Now, what feelings do these thoughts evoke toward that client? Do you feel warm, friendly, connected? Thinking about their problems, do you feel sympathetic, supportive, encouraging? Imagining their goals, are you approving, enthusiastic, excited for them?

Empathy

This authentic state of mind — a caring, supportive, loving attitude toward your prospective clients — will help you close more sales than any skills or techniques you could learn. And as an added bonus, it can help you become more comfortable with selling than you ever thought possible.

Whenever you find yourself struggling to make a sale, or to reach out to a prospect, stop what you’re doing. Take a few moments to consider all the reasons you care about that person. Even if you don’t know them, you know others like them. Ground yourself in an attitude of friendship, support, and respect. Then start again.

If you begin to really love your prospects, you may just find that they will love you back.

Share this article if you found it useful! And leave a comment in the box below. We hope to connect with you soon.

About CJ Hayden

C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!™ Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of "Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You'll Ever Need" at www.getclientsnow.com.

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5 comments

  1. Thanks C.J for really great tips. I think most of us did learn that the way you treat prospects the same way they treat you.

    I think even the most sucessful marketers sometimes forget about this simple thing. If you treat your prospects like “piece of dirt” and just want to get what you want of them, then it’s never gonna work. I know what I say, because I did not care about them and thats what almost costed me my business…

    Thanks again for great article!

    Sarah J

  2. ‘Tis all but true. Trying to truly help your prospects is not something just for sales, but something that you should be doing in any kind of business you run, whether an online business or a brick-n-mortar one. With how easy it is to tarnish a reputation today (social media in particular) you better be doing all you can to make sure they’re happy and go out of your way to help them whenever possible. ~David Walker

  3. David Walker is right in his comment about a tarnished reputation. Social sharing sites have become a new ‘better business bureau’ of sorts. The problem is people often believe whatever is posted about you or your company online, often with little or no regard for the truth.

    Your good company can get a bad reputation quickly if you don’t monitor what’s being said about you and act accordingly.

    This is already a big problem for many companies and is expected to get worse as more and more people infuse social media sharing into their daily lives.

    At SpreadCast we are seeing a large increase in the number of clients looking for solutions that protect their reputation. Many are looking for help because of an existing problem but the trend is changing toward companies seeking a preemptive system.

    The best defense against undue publicity is a proactive system that monitors your online reputation and actively addresses any issues. +Tim Dini

  4. That’s why companies now are hiring social media managers to do all the “social sites stuff” for them. For example social media manager will do tweets, post on facebook and etc on behalf of hiring company. I don’t know was this new to you, but I found out about this only a couple weeks ago…

  5. It’s like a love/hate relationship you have with them. But you need them so badly

    And just like tim says, worth to mouth can damage you badly if you do not take care of prospects.

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