Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
This quote has often been used in sales trainings in order to highlight the importance of developing rapport and relationships. As sales professionals, especially when beginning a new career, it can be tempting to try to dazzle your prospect or client with your knowledge about your products and services or even your company.
I’ve found few sales training programs that go beyond the surface idea of showing your prospects you care. Glossing over this is counterproductive because the entire process of gaining your prospect’s business hinges on how well you’ve developed a relationship with them.
Getting prospects to know you care has very little to do with your knowledge and everything to do with how you work with them in identifying pain points and providing a solution to them.
I have two pieces of advice for you today:
1) Research your prospects.
2) Stop telling them things.
Researching your prospects gives you valuable insight into who they are, their philosophies, who’s on their team and what they think is the secret sauce that makes their offerings so special.
Don’t just research the company. Try to find out a little public information about who you’re meeting. Use LinkedIn to check their profile and perhaps peek in on other social media as well. Learning about your prospects will help you find common ground and topics you can talk about as you start an appointment.
Several years ago, my company was given a referral to a potential client who would be a really great fit for us. I was also told that we wouldn’t be the only competitor. Doing research on this person was fairly easy because he was quite well known and had developed a strong career and a fantastic reputation.
He had also written a couple of books.
Since our appointment with him was a week away, I ordered one of his books on Amazon and was able to read the first few chapters before our meeting.
When it was time to meet, we did the general get-to-know you chit-chat, and I started asking him about his book. He was surprised I had taken the time to not only look it up, but buy it and read as much as I could.
This wasn’t the main reason he eventually selected our company, but it helped in engaging in meaningful conversation and significantly elevated the quality of our discussion. Because of this, the process of working with him to find solutions for his goals became more of a partnership. Developing trust began to happen naturally because he knew we cared.
It isn’t likely your prospects have written a book, but they may have written blog articles. They may have had articles written about them. They may have won awards for excellence in their field. It might be as simple as where they went to school. You might share an interest in a hobby.
The point is, try to find out what they care about and merge that with how you can enrich their life by solving the problem that allowed you an appointment on their calendar.
Now to the second point: stop telling them things (at least not until they ask).
This means you don’t dump information on them no matter how much you know about your offerings or their company. There will be a point where you’ll be talking about your company and your services. Hopefully, at this point, you’re having a meaningful conversation, and the subject will come up as a natural progression of events.
Keep in mind that you do want to steer the conversation to why you’re meeting them in the first place. I just recommend taking more of the “scenic route” to get there.
If you’re not telling them things, how are you showing off your amazing knowledge and research?
By asking questions!
Asking intelligent, thoughtful questions that are targeted to understand what’s important to their company, and to them personally, almost immediately makes you more interesting to them. You also show how intelligent you are.
Take the time to research and understand your prospect and use that information to ask intelligent, thoughtful questions that will generate engaging conversations.
Doing so will show your prospect you care and they’ll want to know what you know.
To get started, pick a prospect you have an appointment with in the near future. Find out a good piece of information about their company or the person you’re meeting with and write down a question you want to ask them about. Put some thought into it.
When you practice researching your prospects and asking them thoughtful questions, you’ll start developing rapport noticeably faster than you have in the past.