By Brian D. Wiggins
Director of Circulation, Philadelphia Business Journal
If you’ve attended sales seminars, then you’ve likely noticed a common key point conveyed in many of them: Sales professionals must deliver value to their prospective customers. How will you deliver value to your prospects? In this article, I talk about how you can nurture relationships with prospects and drive sales by simply turning the focus from building your sales to helping customers grow their businesses.
Think About the Initial Conversation
How many times has someone that you’ve never met or have no working relationship with approached you and in the initial conversation asked you for something – a favor of some kind? More important, how many times have you done that?
Too many times we begin our conversations with prospective customers by focusing on how they can help us, rather than lead with how we can help them. At least once every month, for example, I get an email or a phone call from someone asking how he or she can become a speaker at one of our events. Not once has someone started that conversation with, “I have three people I’d like to refer to you for a subscription.”
I’m sure that these well-intentioned folks see the offer to speak as a way of helping us create value for our customers, and they are right in that line of thinking. What’s missing here, though, is that they’re making the offer because they’ll benefit, as well.
Start Relationships Off on the Right Foot
If you’re like me, you get excited when you see a great sales opportunity. It’s so tempting to jump right to the part where the customer signs on the dotted line. The trick, however, is to take a step back and start the relationship on the right foot by asking yourself:
- What are you going to do for your prospective customers?
- What referrals are you going to pass their way?
- Do they offer products/services that you and your organization can use?
- How will you help them grow their top line without requiring anything of them?
That last question is key. I don’t mean that you need to give away the farm, but that you should give freely and generously of yourself without expecting anything in return. Be nice, do nice things, and in the end, it will come back to you in spades.
Turn the Focus from Your Sales to Helping Others Grow Their Businesses
Providing value is what drives truly successful businesses, as well as the successful sales professionals behind the businesses. These winning sales professionals begin every interaction by asking, “What can I do for you?” By turning the focus from your own sales to helping others grow their businesses, you can forge rock-solid relationships that not only build customer loyalty, but also result in more business being driven your way. After all, people want to do business with people they like.