I had a recent conversation with a CEO about sales. He was commenting on some of the materials he was reading about selling. Imagine my surprise when he said that one of the articles instructed salespeople to make more sales calls to close business so that they were lengthening their sales cycle. Don’t try to close business in the first sales call. Instead, focus on building rapport and getting to know your prospect. I would have thought it was a joke, but the CEO was serious. That’s just one of the wrong ideas I’ve heard lately.
Why lengthening your sales cycle is wrong.
What is the object of selling? It’s to make a sale despite what some people think. The object is to sell in a shorter, not longer period of time. I realize that building rapport helps you sell. The person who wants to lengthen the sales cycle thinks that is the way to build rapport. He may be right. But, is it the best way to build rapport? I don’t think so.
The best way to build rapport is to “read” your prospect so you quickly understand how you should modify your behavior to build trust and rapport quickly. You match what you see in terms of observable behaviors. The behaviors to match are voice pace, voice volume, facial expression, vocal tone and whether you use your hands as your speak. Does that require lengthening the sales cycle? No, it does not.
Prospecting door-to-door is a great way to find prospects.
I recently saw a discussion on NextDoor, the private social network for neighborhoods. The discussion was from a woman who was alerting her neighbors to a door-to-door salesman in her neighborhood who sold financial services. He represented a major national financial services company. She wrote, “I thought it strange that someone in that business would be going door-to-door trying to get new business.”
The response from another neighbor was, “Not that I can verify that the man is legitimate BUT my daughter went to work for that company and this is their business model!! The person has to go door-to-door in their neighborhoods trying to drum up business and/or go to businesses, too. It’s kind of like their initiation. I was very unhappy about the practice – a young woman going door-to-door. Fortunately, my daughter dropped out after a couple of months – definitely NOT a business model I think is appropriate in today’s society!”
Door-door selling of financial services is just as misguided as building rapport by lengthening the sales cycle. Does going door-to-door get you introduced to your neighbors? Yes, it does. Does it present you in the best light to be considered as a financial advisor? No, it does not.
Here are better strategies if you want to meet your neighbors. Get involved in your neighborhood activities like a homeowners association so people know who you are. In a casual setting you can introduce yourself and what you do. You could also mail a letter and introduce yourself to your neighbors. Include something of interest to them so your letter isn’t just a sales pitch. You might include some interesting information about paying for college or retirement planning that would interest readers so they call you for a meeting. Going door-to-door is not ideal for a professional.
You’re going to hear a lot of interesting ideas on how you can sell more. You will have to pick which ones to implement. Here’s how to choose. Why not focus on the ideas that present you in the best light and shorten your sales cycle while you sell?