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  • Writer's pictureGary Kieper

Stop Selling and Start Dating

Do you remember when you went on your first date with your significant other? Do you remember the hours and hours you spent talking to each other and how the time seemed to fly by as you listened more intently to every word that was spoken? You asked questions about their family, education, work goals, religious beliefs, favorite songs, and greatest vacations. You learned that they grew up like the Cleavers or were from a town like Mayberry. As the days and weeks went by, the conversations grew deeper and more intense. As they opened up to you, they started to share painful memories. Maybe they shared how a past love failed because they were cheated on. This leads to a deeper conversation of how trust has been an issue in new relationships. You learn so much about the other person because you took the time to listen and now you have information to reflect on as you move forward. You can use the trust issue to take fear away by always being open and honest, or you can ignore the issue and feed their fear. This is exactly like sales. If we listen to our client, we can learn many valuable things. We can make a choice to hear what they are saying, or we can focus on our agenda. One works much better than the other.

So the question is, why don’t all sales professionals date their clients and prospects instead of just trying to sell to them? It’s really quite simple, they haven’t either learned how to do it, or they don’t really care. That is the sad reality. I don’t want to offend the people that truly have perfected their craft and are doing it the right way, but far too often, the vast majority of sales people are simply trying to make a living. The problem with this line of thinking is that they will only go as far as their income needs take them. Imagine a world where instead of trying to sell to people, we focused on getting to know them and what their needs are. Imagine a world where income (or commission) takes a backseat to solving problems and being in a deep business relationship with the client. Just like in dating (or courting), learn how to engage your customer by asking questions and really focus on listening to their answers. If you listen carefully, they will open up and share concerns, fears, successes, failures, and a myriad of areas you can help them. Like in the example above, the key is to listen very closely to what the client is saying and not to solve problems before you truly understand the entire situation.

Unfortunately, both dating and selling have something else in common. As the days, weeks, months, and years pass, we sometimes forget all of the things we used to do that made the relationship great in the beginning. We don’t talk as much, put other priorities first, and the feelings slowly change. Other competitors find a way in and the next thing you know, you’ve lost not only the business you worked so hard to build, but more importantly, the relationship is significantly damaged. This can easily be avoided by always putting the client first and having their best interests in mind. So as you go out and work, remember, date your clients. Get to know them and create deep, meaningful relationships. Be seen as a trusted advisor, the expert in your field. Go out and do great things. Be selfless!

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