One of my best friends is just about the greatest salesman you’ll ever meet. We got to know each other long ago when I was working as a copywriter at a software company and he was, naturally, working in the sales department. Most of the sales people who worked there were either on the obnoxious, overconfident side (compensating for something, perhaps) or they were the kind of pitiful, desperate need-to-make-the-mortgage-please-buy-from-me type of sales person (think Gil on The Simpsons).
Jason is not like that though. He has a calm, cool demeanor; he’s helpful without being cloying and gives you room to make your decision without being aloof or disengaged. I’m pretty sure he told his fair share of customers to go buy our competitor’s product if he really felt it would serve them better. Knowing Jason, his motivation to do so is two-fold: not only does the customer get what they want, but he doesn’t have to deal with them down the road when they’re unhappy with the product.
What makes him distinctly different from most salespeople is that he has a true passion for the art of selling. And to him that doesn’t mean just getting people to buy something, but rather helping people get what they need in a mutually beneficial relationship that makes both parties happy. He studies sales like an art. He understands what makes people tick and how to manage those relationships to everyone’s advantage.
We’ve been great friends ever since those days at the software company, even doing a little writing on the side together (anybody want to buy a couple of screenplays?).
Before Jason got married, we’d talk a lot about romantic relationships: finding them, what makes them work or not and how to game the system to have the most success in them. In talking about these things, we realized that managing sales and marketing relationships wasn’t all that different from how you pursue and manage romantic relationships. The steps to doing either are the same.
We even came up with a fairly detailed outline for a book that would be a combination of a self-help to finding love and a motivational sales theory guide. We’d make millions.
Imagine my dismay when I discovered that someone else has beat us to the punch. Although, I have to point out that we still have a few details and hooks in our delivery that Ms. Sacks did not include in her article, so our quiver is not entirely depleted.
She hits all the sales and marketing/romance blunders squarely on the head, but the most salient of Sack’s topics is number three. Timing really is everything in both marketing and relationships.
Not Knowing the Deal Breakers
As you start your “dating” experience, you might have a list with tens of thousands of prospects on it. But just as in love, so it is in business: Timing is everything. Not everybody wants a relationship with you. And all will move forward according to their own timeframe, not yours. However, that doesn’t mean you have to wait around until they take notice. You’re better than that.
Here are some “tests” to try:
Test different messages. Use a few messages across different channels to test your marketing. How do they respond to an email? What about a voicemail?
Monitor behavior and actions. Do the prospects click on a link to watch a demo? Are they downloading your free report? If the answer is yes, you might move them into the hot-leads part of the funnel.
Listen. Don’t always talk at them. Don’t flood your prospects with messages. If they aren’t opening your emails or clicking on links, cut them some slack. Don’t unleash your hot-lead follow-up campaign on them.
I haven’t shared this with Jason yet. He’ll probably be just as mad as me that someone cracked the dating/sales code before we could finally sit down and hash out our book on the shores of Lake Travis like we did our two screenplays (and several margarita-fueled treatments unlikely to ever see the light of day).
But from a marketing standpoint, I’m thrilled to see the validation of our ideas as well as what bloomfield knoble does every day – monitor your data, analyze your results and constantly improve your tactics and your message based on the feedback you receive. Do it to find customers, and do it to find romance – and you’ll succeed at both.
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