Have you ever gotten along so well with a prospect that you were afraid of sacrificing the friendship for the business? It’s a common problem with even senior salespeople. In fact, the more history we have with a prospect, the more we tend to avoid tough conversations.
However, to manage our pipelines means to be on equal footing with our prospects, and that means not delay asking for a decision because we’re afraid of putting a friendship at risk.
To learn how to stay out of the friend zone with our prospects, we sat down with Leon Mccowan, leader of The Sales Dojo, who showed us a simple system to ensure we never come across as subservient to our prospects and never sacrifice the sale for the friendship.
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: Leon says the trigger for this system is any time you’re preparing to interact with the prospect, because ending up in the ‘friend zone’ can occur whenever you’re sending an email, a direct message, picking up the phone or stepping into a meeting. When we communicate with subservient language, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
R – Repeatable: Making this system repeatable cascades into all the communication we have with a client. When writing an email or direct message, avoid phrases like, “Let me know what you think,” “When you have time,” “If you don’t mind,” etc. In written communication, read over your messages before sending and ensure you’re coming across as an equal.
Another step in the system that Leon recommends is to stop saying you’re sorry, either in writing or in your speech. Salespeople are infamous for doing this in hopes that politeness will convince a prospect to take the next step.
Finally, a simple way to stay out of the friend zone is to secure a commitment from the prospect to meet again or respond by a specific date. This is something that equals have no problem doing because they respect each other’s’ time.
I – Improvable: To improve the way you stay out of the friend zone; Leon says to keep up with changes in language and avoid phrases that are out of date. “I’ll drop you a note on (this date),” doesn’t establish you as a partner because it asks nothing of the other person.
Additionally, paying attention to when prospects are more receptive to being a partner such as early in the morning or after closing time may be a way to hyper-focus your efforts to when prospects would be more receptive to a non-subservient message from a professional salesperson.
M – Measurable: Leon advises we measure the answers we’re getting when we approach prospects from a place of partnership rather than subservience. Salespeople often make the mistake of thinking our job is to sell stuff – but it’s to help people make decisions, even if that decision is a ‘no’.
It’s better to weed out folks who won’t be good customers early on with a ‘no’, freeing you up to place more focus on those accounts who will become great clients.
With a simple system like that in place, we’ll be able to develop great relationships that are focused on serving, rather than being subservient.