Rick Fair, Fairwinds Training & Development

No matter which method we use to prospect or network, we should keep in mind that we’re asking busy people to give up some of their valuable time.  And if we’re not compelling enough with the words we use or say, it will be easy for a prospect to shut us out. If a prospect says “I’m not interested” there is a good chance we have not been creative enough in our approach to arouse their curiosity. The same principle holds true when we communicate through a letter or e-mail. The best example is the classic letter as outlined in Tony Parienello’s book “Selling to VITO”. Tony’s letter is a remarkable example of following the proper steps, including piquing interest, adjusting to a specific personality type and closing with a call to action that propels the possibility of making a sale forward.

Nothing beats coming face-to-face with prospects and one of the best ways to accomplish this is through networking. If there is one common trait that most top sales pros have is a bulging Rolodex or contact management system. They make it a point to understand the difference between a suspect and a prospect when it comes to building a network of contacts. It is also critical to keep in mind, networking is more about farming than hunting.

One advantage of a hefty file of contacts is that you get to be in a position to do a lot of favors for others. Many average sales people approach networking half-heartedly and haphazardly, if ever at all and then wonder why they don’t generate results. I believe the importance of networking is obvious but there are a couple of ideas to keep in mind. First of all, there is the idea that shyness is somehow genetic, natural or unchangeable. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone and meet new people. And secondly, for networking to really work there has to be a sincere effort to give first – with no invisible string attached. This act is following the human principle of “Authentic Reciprocation”.

So strong is this principle that there is no society that does not subscribe to it. In his book Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini writes that a developed system of indebtedness is a unique property of human culture.  We are human because our ancestors learned to share their food and their skills in an honored network of obligation. Put another way, whenever you give prospects credit for their intelligence and listen sincerely, they have an authentic urge to give back in kind.

One of the keys in using Authentic Reciprocation is in asking intelligent questions, indicate sincere curiosity and then listen intently to the answers.  Perhaps you are thinking this might sound like a form of manipulation. There is no question that if your motives are suspect, and slanted to your own interests your client will feel manipulated and used. That’s why professional ethics and integrity are essential to using this tool as a way to build trust and credibility with your prospects. Authentic Reciprocation can be used in a number of ways, including:

  • You pay a sincere compliment and indicate genuine interest in the other person
  • You give someone leads or referrals for their business
  • You take someone out for coffee or lunch
  • You send them interesting articles or books that might be of benefit to them
  • You invite them to your service club or introduce them to other people

When used honestly and sincerely, this approach will make your prospects feel exceptional and appreciated. Keep in mind a professional business person is motivated first and foremost by the interests of his/her client, not just to make a sale.

Want to learn more? Join us for a Power Prospecting workshop, free for members, February 19. RSVP here.

Rick Fair has been a principal of Fairwinds Training & Development since 1995. Learn more about Rick here.