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Traditional relationship building is overrated

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Being outgoing, gregarious and friendly used to be the savvy salesperson’s ticket to penetrating new accounts. Today, key decision makers on your target list of prospects already have plenty of friends.

And, given the sheer volume of solicitations that come in on a daily basis, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the next cold call that gets lobbed in the customer’s direction has only a very small chance of success.

Some of the reason sellers are experiencing such low hit-rates is self-inflicted, by using traditional catch-phrases like, “I would love to…”, or, “I just need a brief moment of your time.” Decision makers know you’re not just looking for a brief moment of their time. They also assume salespeople have quotas to hit and would really “love” to boost their commissions.

No doubt your intentions are good, as most salespeople are earnestly trying to provide value to their customers. The challenge is separating yourself from the countless other solicitations potential buyers receive on a daily basis, and then causing decision makers to “want to” engage with you.

Suppose if it were possible to reverse this trend. What if you could create an 80 percent or better success rate when reaching out to new prospects, rather than continue enduring the typical 90 percent or more failure rate? How is this possible, you might ask?

Acquiring the skills necessary to fill your pipeline faster, and with more qualified prospects, is actually easier than one might think. But, it does require sellers to have an appreciation of next-generation selling skills, which is very different than just trying to ‘buddy’ your way into potential opportunities.

There’s no magic, and God knows old-school sales tricks or gimmicks aren’t going to work moving forward. Instead, there are a few very important questions individual sellers (and entire sales teams) should be asking themselves, like:

  • What are you doing to leverage curiosity to get mindshare from key decision makers in target accounts?
  • What questions are you asking to convey credibility?
  • How does opening with a generic elevator pitch differentiate you from competitors who are making similar claims?
  • What are you doing to secure incremental commitments on the way to the larger sale?

When you’re on the receiving end of cold calls at home, I bet you’re not excited about giving information to people you don’t yet know and trust. So, why should we expect the old-school mentality of trying to “befriend” prospective customers, if that strategy no longer works on you or me? Hmmm…

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