Rule #7: Focus On Your Target
Sometimes during my speeches, I walk up to an unsuspecting woman in an audience, take to a knee, and ask her to marry me. I usually get her attention along with a peculiar and startled look of disbelief. That’s right, I propose to a stranger. I catch her by surprise, and she immediately says “No.” (What did you expect?)
Then, I ask a woman sitting next to her if she would consider being my wife. “Not a chance!” I try a third time. “Fuhgedaboudit!” One after another after another. “No. No. No.” is the inevitable response I get, and the response I expect.
I then return to my first “target-wife,” and remind her that if I were sitting in her seat, I would not be flattered, as I immediately rebounded from her rejection and directed the same question to a fresh candidate. Then, to #3, #4, #5 and finally to #6.
By now, it is glaringly obvious to everyone in the room that “this guy is operating on an agenda that appears to be self serving.” Based on his rapid -fire proposal trail, he really had no genuine interest in candidate #1 at all. His mission was to get married sometime before noon, and he really didn’t care who his victim was. I then point out that if the first woman I asked accepted my proposal, then I would have good reason to be personally alarmed since she obviously was working on an agenda of her own.
After a brief pause, I shift from this fictitious marriage scenario to a more realistic example. Pointing toward an unsuspecting member of the group, I ask, “Can I have your business?” Without waiting for a response, I ask another guest, “Can I have your business?” And then on to a third in rapid succession, “How about your business? Can I do business with you?”
As with the marriage proposal it is clear that I don’t genuinely care about any one individual business prospect. I just want to sign a new account for reasons of my own. Perhaps I want to make a lot of money so I can buy an expensive car and retire at an early age. This personal agenda is not only very transparent, but it also lacks any sign of sincerity. Sadly, this “style” is as common as it is unappealing.
Relationships, whether they are business relationships or personal relationships, take time and usually a plan to develop. Once upon a time, my wife, Barbara, was a perfect stranger. We lived in different areas of New Jersey for the first thirty-two years of our lives. We simply did not realize that the other person was alive . . . nor did we know enough to care.
But one day, upon initial visual sighting, I decided that it might be in my best interest to invest some time and effort in getting introduced to this woman. From that day forward, a series of individual steps unfolded which were all necessary in building a trusting relationship. It took a series of steps to break down the inhibitions she held for a stranger. I then attempted to establish, and then expand upon, her comfort level . . . one opportunity at a time. We sipped a coke. We viewed a movie. We sat through dinner. We enjoyed a day of skiing. I met her parents . . . and she met mine. Each step led to the next logical sequence in this relationship-building strategy. There was virtually no stress and no reason to question the process. The relationship matured, developed and evolved into a strong and healthy bond culminating in marriage . . . a quick three years later.
(By the way, since the “sale” was finalized, I have spent a good number of years fine-tuning my “customer service” skills with Barbara. But I’ll cover that in my next book!)
A successful sales effort works the same way as personal relationship building. Nothing worthwhile is going to happen until the involved parties establish a mutual trust. Then, a number of additional events occur at their own pace. This happens usually by design, and depending on the service or product you are selling, over a period of days, weeks, months, or sometimes, years. Remember these seven words:
Everything worthwhile takes longer than first imagined.
Until you take the first step, however, the meter doesn’t begin to run. So here is my candid advice to you: Step out of your comfort zone and put things in motion.
Put yourself in gear. Get the ball rolling. Take a shot. Make a move. Fail. Call. Write. Drive. Attend. Do. Start the relationship building cycle. Tune in. Turn on. Get jazzed! Begin at once . . . today . . . now.
To be more specific:
1. List those people, groups and companies you would like to do business with. (For this, all you will need is a pencil and a piece of paper, so no excuses please.)
2. Determine three logical ways in which you can enter each prospect’s universe . . . and make an initial connection with each one. (Here are some ideas: a postcard; a letter; an invitation; a telephone call; a personal referral; a visit at their trade show; walk up to someone, stick out your hand, and simply introduce yourself to them.)
3. Make the connection. (Be Brief. Be Bright. Be Gone.)
4. Keep building on the previous calls until a relationship built on trust develops. (The secret here is to stay visible. Don’t give them the opportunity to forget who you are for more than eight weeks at a time.)