In the community where I live, our mail is delivered to a community mailbox, rather than to individual homes. The daily trip to pick up the mail is an opportunity to have small chat with your neighbors. On one recent mail trip, I arrived at the same time as a new neighbor. We exchanged pleasantries as we each went to our boxes to gather mail.
A conveniently placed trash receptacle at the boxes makes it easy to sort your mail and discard unwanted pieces. I moved toward the receptacle just as she was closing her own box and walking toward the curb. “If you know anyone who needs a babysitter, I live right there,” she said pointing at a corner home. In case I had missed the pointing, she recited the address. A little dumbstruck, I think I must have nodded and smiled and muttered okay. She went on to tell me that she was retired and now cares for children. We bid each other a good day and moved toward home.
She did not introduce herself even after the sales pitch. Should I simply tell friends to show up at her home and trust she was not a serial killer?
In sales and marketing, we have learned that people buy from people that they like and trust. However, those are steps 2 and 3. Before like and trust, there is “know.” This poor woman had skipped right to trust without establishing the basics. Many people commit the same sin daily in their marketing or networking efforts.
On Twitter, people auto DM a sales message upon following. In web copy, companies skip right to “buy now” without a proper introduction. They ask for trust but provide no basis to do so.
Does selling always require relationship? No. When you have the answer to an immediate or urgent need, or there are no other competitors, the sales process is very different. However, even companies with a monopoly will do far better by treating customers as if they have a choice. (Cable and utility companies take note.)
When you skip the all crucial “know” you are sending a message that your potential customers are not important. They are fresh prospects that serve to help you hit your profit margin. Your ideal customer is anyone with the ability to pay. Is that the message you really want to send?
If you’re writing to open up a sense of possibility in another person, you’ll need to do a little work to take them there. You can’t thrown them straight in.
I like to think of it as walking along a road with someone: you want them to get comfortable with your pace, your rhythm, your presence, before you start to do anything more dramatic.
If you take the time to lead verbally and in writing, rather than rushing head long into the sales process, you will experience better results and create longer-term relationships with your clients.
Do you prefer to get to know a person/company before moving to the sales process? What are triggers that make you feel better about going from stranger to potential customer?