Whether you are selling a product or service, people want to buy from people they like and trust. One of the best ways to gain trust is to use it as a tool for relationship building.
Buyers know they are being sold. Their antennae are acutely tuned to the fact that salespeople will try to flatter them, kiss up, and say whatever they think they need to say in order to “close the deal.”
In reality, this puts a greater chasm between you and the prospect.
A better approach is to listen attentively to what the prospect is saying and to find an area where you can DISAGREE with him or her. Respectfully. Politely. Honestly.
But by disagreeing, you are doing something DIFFERENT. And any sales or marketing professional worth his/her salt knows that differentiation is critical to winning.
Taking this approach shows the prospect that you are atypical, that you are not a “Yes-Man/Woman” and that you are going to speak your mind to try and help them solve their problems.
Too often, people in power are surrounded by those who won’t confront them.
Business failures (New Coke) or tragedy (Space Shuttle Challenger) can result. They appreciate and respect those who will “tell it like it is.” I’ve done this myself many times, but my favorite story comes from a CEO friend of mine who was talking to the President of a global brand.
(I’ll protect the names, industries, and vendor category, but you’ll get the idea).
The President had stated his opinion about a certain direction and my CEO friend listened carefully. Then, he took a deep breath, stared right into the eyes of the President and calmly said:
“We have a thesis that, as it relates to (the solution we provide) …that everyone in your entire industry is fucked up.”
Yes, he said it like that. Risky? Possibly.
But it did get the attention of the President…who said, “ok, tell me why.”
Which the CEO promptly did. At the end of the meeting, because he spoke truth to power, my CEO friend closed the deal.
Not every meeting needs to be that dramatic, of course, but it makes the point well, I think, wouldn’t you agree?
So, next time you are in a meeting, do your traditional sales work. Listen, take notes, seek to understand…and, at the right moment, find a way to show that you are a free thinker and say so.
It will help you win the deal.
About Jeremy Epstein
Jeremy Epstein is the VP of Marketing at Sprinklr (www.sprinklr.com), the leading provider of enterprise Social Relationship Infrastructure. Ranked #1 by Forrester Research, Altimeter, CEB, and Econsultancy, Sprinklr provides a complete solution comprised of 15 interconnected modules on a single architecture to help large organizations be social at scale. You can find him at www.twitter.com/jer979 or www.linkedin.com/in/jer979