If you have ever invested time in watching The Godfather movies, you may be familiar with a phrase not too dissimilar from the title of this article. However, we are speaking of a context here which is more corporate than Corleone. There have been many studies and assertions published over the last decade or two about the shift in salesmanship from aggressive to amicable. The phrase ‘people buy people’ is almost nauseatingly overused but still enshrined in truth and relevance in any business in any industry.
While there are definitely techniques and tactics one must deploy in situations such as objections, the simple concept of making friends is often overlooked. Making friends is something we’ve been doing naturally since we were infants; why would we throw this experience out the window in a sales environment? Sales people over complicate the science of what they are doing and undermine the simplicity – more often than not this is caused by inexperience, poor management or an overly pressured environment. If somebody doesn’t like you then they are unlikely to purchase from you. If you do have some rapport or relationship with them then the chances of them signing over some cash are significantly increased but another crucial, lucrative door gets unlocked – their network. You will discover that every lead in your database has some hidden gems tucked away in their locker, retrievable only for the sales person who charms and disarms them with ‘friendship’.
So, how do you make friends and influence people?
- You can start by slipping informalities into your conversations. By gauging the level of comfort you have with your prospective client, you can break the ice and help them feel relaxed. It will take a clever and intuitive marksman to pull these shots off however because you need to quickly understand their personality and interests. However, having the courage to treat your lead as a friend can pay off immensely because when that person picks up the phone, they see you as just another sales person; break that mould and give them a warm, fuzzy feeling of something they’ve not experienced before from a business – a conversation.
- Once you have ascertained certain things about the person, you should occasionally make references to it in future communications. Perhaps you have learned that they are about to go on holiday or that they’ve got three children causing havoc at home; dropping a pleasant tribute to these trivial matters into the P.S. of an e-mail or the opening lines of a phone call, allow the recipient (your potential client) to feel cared about, wanted and liked. Thus you have cultivated the foundations of a ‘friendship’.
- As with your regular social circle, friendship is dependent on your ability to serve them in their time of need. Besides the aforementioned tactics you can use to soften your relationship with your lead, there is a hardened truth at the heart of a client relationship. That is, being able to deliver everything you said you would and in timely fashion. It sounds simple but it must not be forgotten that customer service is key and getting the basics right is paramount before the pretty stuff can occur. Keep your serious communications with them free of any fluff and get straight down to business.