It's deflating to arrive for a presentation only to learn the person meeting with you has no power to determine whether you'll win the account. So it's imperative for MLSs to remember they must target decision makers early in the sales process. That's straightforward; a little research can get you there. However, it's also essential to remember that these business people, as well as the people working with them in various capacities, are far more than the roles they play.
"Decision makers have the interests of their business at heart, but that doesn't mean they're not human," Paul H. Green wrote in Good Selling!SM: The Basics. "Treat them as individuals and you'll get further in your efforts."
That means it's best to refrain from drawing conclusions about prospective customers based on what their functions are. "Think about it," Green advised. "You're a salesperson. How does it feel to know that the person you are talking to is silently thinking, 'Salespeople are pushy. They look out for number one. They'll do anything for a sale – maybe ethical, maybe not'?"
You know that doesn't feel good. Have you considered you might be doing the same kind of thing to your potential customers? "Are they all 'rude,' 'ignorant,' and 'self-absorbed'?" Green wrote. "Give your prospective customers the respect of recognizing that they are more than a list of adjectives commonly attached to certain titles. Approach your prospect as a person, not just as the 'sales manager,' 'owner' or 'accountant.'
Keeping this in mind will go a long way toward getting over a major hurdle: gaining the merchant's trust. "It's important to recognize that people don't really care what you have to say until they feel they can trust your motivation and judgment," Green wrote. This is in sync with a basic business principle we all know: people are most inclined to do business with people they know, like and trust.
"Therefore, your first hurdle as a professional salesperson is to set your prospects at ease," Green added. "If they are to become buyers, they must know that they are putting their money and faith in a worthy company and that the relationship will get even better over time."
You won't reach that point by faking it, pretending to listen when you're just thinking of the next thing you'll say or pretending to care about the merchant's needs when you don't have a clue what they are. As Green noted, you must "offer advice that is good for this person, not just for your commission. … Treating your prospects as people will result in successful closes, quality accounts and increased referrals."
To be effective, a degree of spontaneity is necessary, too. While it's best to stay focused, you can't be stiff and stick only to your script. This requires being relatively relaxed in an inherently high-pressure situation. Prepare more than you think you need to. Then when you're in the spotlight, remember you're talking to a person who ‒ just like you ‒ has joys, sorrows, hopes and dreams, and just do your best
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