The way we date has changed over the years, but there’s still a process for developing a relationship with someone. You can’t just skip to the end – the proposal.

It’s no different with sales.

In my grandparents’ day…

As a young boy, I remember being regaled with stories of how my grandparents used to date.

Grandad would get that far away look in his eye as he remembered the local dances he’d attend.

The boys would stand on side of the room, eyes fixed on the floor. On the other side, the girls giggled in groups. Between them, the dance floor stood empty; music playing in anticipation.

Suddenly, one of the boys would gather himself and start walking nervously across the room, determined to ask one of the girls to dance.

The other boys held their breath. Would the brave soul be rejected, left humiliated and looking foolish? Or would his courage be rewarded, and he’d dance with the prettiest girl in the room?

That’s how my grandparents met. Grandad was proud of his ability to confidently cross the floor and ask a girl to dance.

Sometimes he met rejection, but that didn’t stop him. He’d simply ask the next girl.

“One step closer to your grandmother,” he’d say.

Though he did admit he was also motivated to not be the last boy and, “left with the girl who couldn’t dance!”

Regardless, it was a process (of elimination!) that he went through.

And, once he’d met my grandmother, there were further steps before they got married. The process obviously worked because they’ve been married for over 60 years.

So, how does this relate to sales?

Sales is about building relationships

As a real estate agent, Grandad also used a process to build relationships with customers.

He was extremely proud of the fact he didn’t just sell a house for a family once. Instead, the same family would get him to buy and sell their homes over many years. When they were ready to move, they would give my grandad a call.

How did he achieve this? He put in the effort to build relationships with his customers that went beyond the sale.

All his customers came via a referral. They had a problem and he would work to find a solution that suited them. He asked lots of questions and took the time to really understand their needs, instead of rushing to sell them an inferior home to make a quick sale.

He put in the hard work – networking at social gatherings, helping in the local community and making sure he was well-known and respected.

But haven’t things changed?

Compared to my grandparents, I met my wife in very different circumstances. She was my next door neighbour and I got her attention by accidentally crashing my car into the fence on our driveway (distracted by seeing her on a ladder!).

However, there were still a number of steps I had to go through before she became my wife.

Her not laughing at the incident was a good start! But it took four years of getting to know her (what made her smile and what made her mad!), her friends, and her family before I got to marry her.

I have friends who have met their partners in all sorts of ways and these days, more people are meeting their partners online. Something my grandparents certainly don’t understand!

Let’s imagine you’ve filled out your online dating profile (all 160 questions!) and the dating site comes back with a perfect match. You check out their profile, think they look pretty good and send them a message. They appear interested as well, so you arrange to meet.

You catch up at the local coffee shop. So, there you are, sitting across from your perfect match and you open your mouth to start your first conversation.

“Hey, thanks for catching up. The dating website said we’re a perfect match, so how about we get married?”

Uncomfortable silence. Unless you believe in love at first sight, you’ll probably end up sitting across from an empty chair.

But people do it.

Not when they’re on a first date (I hope not!) but in a business meeting a potential customer for the first time.

Like a quick marriage proposal, a quick close doesn’t work

You spend a lot of money to generate leads online.

A potential customer successfully navigates your marketing funnel, popping out the other end fully qualified and ticking all your boxes. Your product or service obviously solves their problem and you’ve organised to meet them for a coffee.

Doesn’t sound too different to our online dating scenario, does it?

So, when you do get to that meeting don’t skip straight to the close and forget about the steps you need to go through first.

Just like a marriage proposal on a first date, you’ll most likely get rejected. All you’ve done in that first meeting is ‘turned up to the dance’.

The four steps to making a sale

Whenever you get a lead in your business, here are the steps you must follow:

1. Cross the dance floor and ask them to dance – meet with them

2. Dance – get to know them, uncover their needs, build trust and rapport

3. Follow up – build a relationship

4. Propose – once we have established the relationship, then we can close

We can’t replace the courting part of the sale – building a relationship with our potential customer. Otherwise, we risk losing the opportunity altogether.

And, just like being on a date, in every part of the process, we need to consider our body language, tonality, and presentation. These all have an impact on whether the relationship we’re building will be more than a quick spin around the floor.

Conclusion

In sales, liking dating, you can’t skip steps.

You’ll have vastly more success and close more deals if you focus on building relationships with your customers rather than going for quick sales.

Remember ABC – Always Be Connecting with your clients and bring that relationship from online into the real world.

If you require help courting your clients, get in touch and let’s dance.

Sharn Piper

Sales Consultant, Trainer & Coach

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