Not too long ago I was talking with a person I mentor. She is new to her business and new to direct sales, so we spent some time discussing how the selling was going. Although she was getting positive responses (and making sales) she wondered if she could be doing better.
By way of background, she lives and runs her business in a small town on the edge of our metro area. It’ s a stand-alone town that has become a suburb. But there’s still a strong sense of independence there, a sense of community that says “we’re not a part of the big city”.
Many people who own businesses there get called on by a significant number of sales people from “the big city”. Based on my experience, it’s probably a never-ending stream of salespeople making their way through town.
The lady I was working with sells a service many of these local business owners could use and so she also calls on them. After talking with her, we both concluded that a lot of the people she called on might assume she was just another one of “those city people”. If they didn’t already know her, this might be a natural and automatic thing to assume.
If they did see her as a salesperson from the “city” then they were more likely to be cold and resistant to talking with her. They labeled her as “one of them” (which is not a good thing).
So we talked about ways she might prevent this incorrect labeling. Anything she could do to let people know she was one of them (and not a big city salesperson) would help her break the ice with her prospects.
For example, she might wear a shirt with their town name on it. Or she talk about any local activities her family was involved in. Maybe start the conversation talking about the local happenings. I suggested she get good at dropping names.
How do your prospects see you?
If your prospects see you as just another face in a long line of salespeople calling on them, you’ll get resistance. This is especially true if you’re in a highly competitive business or one where your prospects get a lot of sales calls.
On the other hand, if your prospects see you as like them or part of their “group” (such as being local versus being from the city) they will likely treat you better. They will probably be more willing to talk with you. Their natural sales defense shields will not be as strong nor will they stay up as long.
The key is to find ways to get “on the same side of the fence” as your prospect. The more they see you as similar to them, the more quickly they will trust you and accept you. And, the faster you can begin to develop a relationship that may lead to doing business with them.
What can you do to help your prospects see you in the best light? How can you get on the “same side of the fence” as they are so you can start building a relationship better and faster?
Or, if you manage or coach salespeople, how can you help them break down some the pre-conceived ideas that they may be victim to as they call on new prospects?