Ever spoke with someone who really wanted you to like them? And did that make you want to have a relationship with them or not?
It doesn’t work in social situations, but it’s often the chief strategy of salespeople. Desperate for the sale, they turn on the charm and try to leverage rapport to win the sale. Unfortunately, that often ends in both parties not liking each other much as the new customer realizes they bought a relationship and not necessarily a product or service that moved them closer to their goals.
To learn how we can move past relying on rapport and become more value-focused in how we sell, we sat down with Douglas Cole, author of The Sales MBA. He showed us a simple sales system any salesperson can use to ensure they’re focused on serving the prospect as a primary sales strategy.
Since we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it, and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: To move beyond likeability in how we sell, Douglas recommends we trigger this sales system as early as possible and is based on having a full pipeline that is properly prioritized. This involved being able to identify which accounts are your priorities and what activities you’ve committed to each day to move those critical accounts forward.
If our next call is to the only prospect we’re pursuing, it’ll be tough to not try and be as friendly as charismatic as possible in the hopes of salvaging the deal.
R – Repeatable: To ensure we don’t fall into the trap of being likable or charismatic as our chief sales strategy, Douglas recommends establishing a reflection process that follows the same steps that will ensure we approach our prospecting conversations from a place of service rather than neediness:
Ask these two questions – First, where does this prospect’s company compete, and how will they win? Knowing that information before driving a sales conversation ensures you’re aligning whatever you sell with your prospect’s (and your prospect’s company’s) goals. An additional bonus is that this alignment will ensure you’re showing up as a competitive advantage for your prospect rather than as someone who’s desperate for a friend.
I – Improvable: To improve and continuously ensure we’re not slipping back into relying on likeability as our chief strategy, Douglas says to continue experimenting with variations of how you show up as a competitive advantage to your prospect, thereby ensuring you’re placing your focus on being of value to them rather than leaning too heavily on establishing rapport.
This may look like testing whether you’re showing up with a gain-based language frame (what the prospect stands to gain with your product or service) or a loss-based language frame (what they stand to lose without what you sell).
M – Measure: While it may seem difficult to measure how well you’re moving beyond likability as our chief strategy, Douglas says to reflect on how close you came to your sales predictions. Did you achieve what you thought you would in outreach attempts, buyer meetings, proposals issued, and the other metrics you’re measured against?
Instead of measuring whether our prospects like us or not, we can instead focus on how well we served them and how close we came to achieving our own sales goals to measure success.