Ever been on a date? Unless you are reading this and are under the age of 13, I am sure that your answer is yes. Now, go through your mind and think back at some of the dates you might have been on. If they were a movie, would it have been a comedy, drama or a horror flick?
Dating is real world since it involves a great deal of interpersonal skills and really trying to find out about the other person that you are conversing with. The situation relies on dialog, good listening skills and obviously some talking as well.
For sake of argument for this column let’s put the physical attraction on hold, and we will concentrate on the verbal competence. Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time at Starbucks since a mutual friend fixed both of you up. The two of you have one thing in common at the onset. You are both single and would like to have some sort of a relationship in your life. You both meet and introduce yourselves to each other and sit down with a cup of coffee. Do you start talking about the weather or some nonsense like “Wow, the Cleveland Indians are sure looking hot with great pitching?” If so, time to think about staying single for a long time and getting a couple of cats.
Hopefully, you start your conversation with a few real questions such as “Wasn’t that nice of our friend to think of us.” Maybe after a few pleasantries you might even ask some questions like “Do you live nearby? What do you do for work?” If they say they are a nurse, teacher or even a fireman, hopefully you have a few more questions that are sincere with genuine curiosity. The less you talk about yourself the more interesting you are.
Now, you are both beginning a dialog and finding out about each other to see what kind of personalities you might have. This will also uncover areas about their interests that might involve hobbies or just day-to-day life. You never know where a conversation might go if you ask questions and just let things take a natural course or just flow.
If the other person is a “disco fool” that enjoys going out every evening, dancing the night away to music from the 1970s and you prefer staying home and watching TV or reading a good book, this might make for a real interesting relationship that will last about a week.
Maybe, your idea of the perfect day is bringing your new puppy and taking long walks at the beach looking at rainbows. The other person would rather rebuild a 1963 Corvette in their garage and then go to the gun range for a little target practice. Not the best match for making it to your 25th wedding anniversary.
What I am trying to say here is that for a relationship to work you need to find out about the other person, find what is important to them and see if you share common interests. This same premise holds true for your “daytime date” or sales call, finding out about your possible prospect or the appointment you have to see if this could possibly become a long-time customer or client.
The only way you can truly satisfy a client or customer is to ask questions and see what they want, desire or need for themselves or their business. You will not accomplish this by talking about nonsensical things such as the pre-mentioned weather or sports.
You also will not get there by giving them your ridiculous “elevator speech” or basically throwing up all over them on how great you or your company are. They definitely do not care about how much you can please them or give them “value.”
So, next time you go on a sales date, take a shower, dress nice and become curious and genuine and fun to be around. Bottom line: aren’t you selling yourself and trying to build a new relationship?
Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He can be reached at: Halbecker.com