Recently, while perusing discussions on my LinkedIn groups, I saw a statement that can only be described as a doozy: another sales trainer posted, “I can teach you to build a relationship, based on trust, that will last a lifetime, and accomplish that within a 30 minute sales call.” Wow! That’s quite a statement.
Let me make a statement, as well: I cannot teach you how, within a 30 minute sales call, to build a lifetime relationship based on trust.
Of course, I suspect the author of the statement can’t do so either. In fact, I’m sure he can’t; earning a lifetime’s worth of trust cannot be done within 30 minutes. People simply don’t work that way. However, if your sights and goals are set correctly, you can accomplish some important things in a 30 minute sales call.
Let’s talk about what they are.
The first task of any sales interaction is to generate a comfortable dialogue for both parties. Sales interactions generally begin with fear on both parties’ sides. Your customer has a fear of making a bad deal, or at a minimum, wasting time. You have a fear of not selling and not succeeding.
Within the first 30 minutes, you can put, at least, some of those fears to the side. Fear creates a wall between the two of you; and if that wall isn’t lower by the time you leave, you’ve missed something somewhere.
One of the most difficult aspects of selling is being remembered when you’re not in front of the buyer. We all like to think that we are incredibly distinctive and memorable people, and that not only will customers remember us, they love us after meeting us. It isn’t so.
Years ago, I did an exercise with a company. In this exercise, we surveyed customers that had been seen the prior week by salespeople. We simply asked them if they recalled being seen by a salesperson from our company, who the person was, and what stood out about the conversation. (I should point out that my salesforce was the top branch in the country for this company.)
The results were sobering. Of those surveyed, 60% remembered being seen by one of our people. Less than 50% could recall a name. Only about 25% could remember any of the conversation. However, invariably, when someone did recall the conversation, their recollection was that the salesperson “asked a lot of tough questions.” This is what makes you memorable to your customers – asking questions that get inside their heads.
The emotional bank account (EBA) is at the center of all of your relationships. Essentially, the EBA is a measurement of how much “equity” you have earned with the other person.
We are constantly making deposits and withdrawals in our EBA’s; the key is to maintain a positive balance by making more deposits than withdrawals. We make deposits by making positive gestures toward the other person. We make withdrawals by asking things of the other person that might be unpleasant, tough, or uncomfortable for them.
In the first 30 minutes of your sales call, it’s critical to begin making deposits into the EBA; if your balance is zero or negative at the end of the first 30 minutes, your customer is likely to close the account.
Understand your buyer.
One of your first tasks of a sales call is to gain a better understanding of your buyer – and by that, I mean understand his or her perspective and worldview as it pertains to business dealings. You do that by asking good questions about your buyer’s background, the things they enjoy about their work, and good big picture questions about the buyer.
Get on the same page.
It is important to understand your buyer. It is equally as important to align yourself with them. When the sales call starts, one of the buyer’s assumptions is that you are on opposite sides of the table, and not necessarily working in the same direction to a common goal.
When you’re selling (to a customer, investor or general stakeholder) the perception of a salesperson is that of someone who is trying to “push” a product or service off on the buyer without significant regard for the buyer’s well-being and interests. You can communicate, through word and deed, that you are on the buyer’s side and that you are working in the same direction.
Generate an opportunity (maybe).
This depends greatly upon your offering and sales environment – but, yes, it is possible to generate an opportunity for a proposal or even an initial order on a 30-minute sales call. What’s important is to keep this in perspective.
Even if you have generated actual business in 30 minutes, it does not mean that you have generated a “lifetime” relationship. It means you have established enough trust with your buyer to give you a tryout; what you do from there will determine if you ever have that opportunity to build a lifelong relationship.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Troy Harrison is the author of “Sell Like You Mean It!” and “The Pocket Sales Manager.” He is a Speaker, Consultant, and Sales Navigator. He helps companies build more profitable and productive sales forces with his cutting-edge sales training and methodologies. For information on booking speaking engagements, training engagements, consulting, or to sign up for his weekly newsletter visit www.troyharrison.com. Connect with @SalesNuggets on Twitter.
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