One of my professors liked to say, “Business is people!” He often said it when he wanted to reduce student anxiety about jumping into the real world of professional work. The plain truth of that statement left an impression with me. Later in life I read the book, How to Make Friends and Influence People. Then, “Business is People!” became fundamental to my career success.
When you really want to connect with a potential customer and form a good relationship, how do you steer the conversation to get their interest? What’s the best approach for getting someone to listen to your message?
You steer your attention away from yourself and listen carefully to understand their message. Then you can respond in a way that identifies with their thinking. This leads to dialog which leads to a relationship. As they find they can relate with you, they’ll become genuinely interested in hearing your message as it relates to them, including whatever it is you’re selling.
Marketing is All about Them
Your business prospect’s immediate interests probably have little to do with your product or service “solution.” They’re more likely to be thinking about their family, favorite hobby, or pressing business and personal issues. Marketing messages should align with real life experiences, both lived and hoped for.
Your future customers are members of the same race as you – the human race! It shouldn’t be too hard to step into their shoes and better understand their needs and put into context the value of your business offerings for them.
Get to the Table!
To hit a home run, you must first get up to bat. Clearly, a salesperson’s job is to reach out to potential new customers proactively. A marketer’s job is to create awareness and desire for a brand. The best way to accomplish success for both is to create an attraction in the market, not push a product or service with a lot of noise.
There is a time and place for spirited selling, answering objections and hard-nosed negotiation, but you’ll probably be absent from that table if you haven’t first developed an authentic relationship with your prospective customer. This relationship begins first in the mind of customers as they relate to your consistent messaging in the market.
Resist the Urge for Urgency!
Perhaps there’s some urgency in your revenue projections. Maybe you really need to hit a goal or quota and think you should bust out and use more aggressive selling tactics. Go ahead and try. You might force a few sales through the pipeline. But then, what if your competition has already made friends with your best prospects by talking with them about what really matters – their personal interests and business goals?
People love to share their passions and interests with those who are genuinely interested. Moms and dads do this. Grandparents do this. Decision-makers who are moms and dads and grandparents and aunts and uncles do this. And you do this. Wouldn’t it then make sense to connect on a more personal and emotional level in your messages and conversations?
In marketing, advertising should tap into personal emotions to generate recall and awareness. In business development, a personal approach requires focus and patience, but as you continually practice it, you’ll cultivate valuable friendships in your professional life and be in business for keeps!