A sales call isn’t about you. It is about your prospect. That is a fundamental principle that anyone in sales must embrace or they’re not a sales professional as much as they are a panhandler or a con man.
I don’t pull my punches around that issue. Mainly because if that sentiment offends you, it doesn’t offend you nearly as much as your prospects are offended by having their busy day interrupted by a stranger who wants to talk about themselves. I get numerous prospecting calls and emails with the completely selfish agenda of the caller/sender every week. It’s annoying. It’s arrogant. In the same way as it would be if you approached a stranger in a bar and just started talking about yourself.
Most companies and individuals have figured this out. Sadly, many still have not. One of the local cable companies still calls me weekly pushing products not based on what I need, but based on what they need to sell. A landscaping company regularly calls me trying to sell shrub and bush maintenance. I don’t even have shrubs or bushes on my property. Annoying.
I also often see this principle ignored on the tail end of sales calls. A sales rep will ask for things and not even disguise the blatant self interest in their requests. Then they will wonder why the prospect isn’t inclined to respect or trust them.
What is happening is that the prospect is hearing the request completely differently than you said it, because you do not have a Valid Business Reason (VBR) for your request. As a sales professional, you must be aware of how prospects hear what you say.
You say: “Is it OK if I drop in on you next week?”
They hear: “I wasn’t able to convince you on the phone today, can I come in next week and waste more of your time in person?”
You say: “Can I send you some more information?”
They hear: “I have too much marketing materials in my office, can I store them in your office for a while?”
You say: “Can we connect on Linkedin?”
They hear: “I wasn’t able to convince you on the phone today, will you allow me to stalk you online so I can keep trying?”
Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with asking for an appointment, to send information, or to connect on Linkedin. Where these requests fall short is not having a reason, potentially beneficial to them, as justification for the request.
“Enjoyed talking to you today Pete. It seems like it might make sense to stay connected in case we can help each other down the line. Would you be interested in connecting on Linkedin?”
Even a vague and basic VBR is better than none. It implies what THEY stand to gain from that step. That said, even better is to go more specific if you can.
“Pete, one of the things I caught from our conversation is how challenging it is to find good people right now. Can we connect on Linkedin so I can refer and introduce you to good people without clogging up your email?
Notice the double helping of his agenda in that statement? Not only am I offering to connect Pete with good people, but I’m also suggesting it in a way that minimizes the pain of too many emails. In this scenario, even if Pete knows I stand to benefit from connecting, the business reason for it benefits him even more.
When I train this concept, I often get asked, “What if I can’t come up with a VBR for my request?”
The answer is that if you can’t come up with a VBR based on what they need/want, you shouldn’t make the request. That’s like asking for the sale. Something that I’ll address next week.