Common Sense Rule (CSR) # 4: Prospects Buy The Salesperson First

There are countless sales training programs available and I’m guessing that most of them touch on how important the salesperson is to the sales process. I’m not so sure, however, that enough emphasis is put on the importance. One of the very best salespeople I ever met was a chameleon and he understood the importance of adapting his style to that of the prospect.

The best sales call I ever went on was with “Jim”. We came face to face with a prospect most salespeople have nightmares about. This guy made a corpse look animated! He was the antithesis of “chatty Kathy”. If the room was silent enough you could hear the synapses clicking in his brain. There were times in the call that were honestly unnerving. It brought a whole new meaning to the phrase  “silence is deadly”.

Faced with a prospect like this most salespeople go into talk overdrive. Not ole Jim. This guy had mastered the ability to adapt to prospects. He let people dictate to him how he should act during the sales call. Do you know how hard that is to do? All of us tend to act as if we have one gear. You’ve seen most of them in sales. The person who always has a smile, the glib word smith, the technical genius, the hard closer, the joke teller, mister shifty. These are the gears and God help anyone who gets in the way.

During the sales call Jim’s prospect mulled every statement over like his life depended on it. Through all this Jim sat and waited for the prospect to make a statement. There were situations where minutes passed between interchanges. Try going 180 seconds without uttering something! Jim did. What happened was extraordinary. About 30 minutes into the call the prospect opened up. Hold onto your hats, folks, there was an actual dialogue taking place! Why? The prospect bought into Jim. There was trust!

Jim and the prospect were on the same communication page. The prospect had found a comfort level with Jim. In essence the prospect made a decision that Jim was like him and therefore he could let down his guarded method of communication. Both had reached a point where there was a bond between them and that bond allowed an openness that did not exist at the beginning of the call.

Mastering this takes time and the ability to accept being uncomfortable with people who are different styles. Enormous amounts of knowledge does not built trust; a sales methodology does not alone build trust; the ability to maneuver through a company’s decision hierarchy does not build trust; being mentally quick does not build trust.

Bonding happens for those people who have the gift of reading people quickly and adapting their style to the style of the other person.


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