We ask so much of our prospects.  They download a white paper and we think they’re ready to buy.  They attend a Webinar and we wonder why they won’t return our calls.

You don’t know me, we just met, but do you want to go away for the weekend?  Wanna come home with me?  The answer is usually no.  Not so fast.

But we expect our sales prospects to move quickly.  We expect them to make commitments before we really get to know them, and they get to know us.

When you’re cold calling, do you really ask for 30 minutes of their time?  Do you ask for an appointment or try to schedule a demo without context, without some conversation, without foreplay?

Shouldn’t you offer something first?

Give them something that they value.  Woo them a little.  Take time to get to know them, figure out what makes them tick, and respond in kind.  Yes, this requires patience.  It doesn’t move nearly as fast as you want it to.  But you’re not in control.  The buyer is.

Expecting a brand new list of prospects, a cold list, to attend a seminar next week isn’t reasonable.  Three months from now, maybe.  But first, they need to get to know you.  Recognize you.  Associate you with something of significant enough value, pertinent to what they value and care about, that they’re willing to take the next step and spend more time with you.

That seminar may be just another step towards a deeper relationship, a paying relationship, but that too sometimes takes time to earn and convert.

Sales is a process.  You’re in control of the steps, but not necessarily the velocity.  The more you push, the more likely you’ll end up turning good prospects away.  But respect the process, and the buyer, and you’ll close the deals you’re looking for.

  • Matt – great blog. And the problem occurs during actual sales meetings as well when you have your first chance to really pitch to the prospect. A date will not respond well if you spent the evening describing all the reasons why you’re an ideal mate or why she should want to marry you.
    Or worse, ask questions of her, then proceed to use her answers as a launching pad for why everything would be peachy if she were to hook up with you. It’s oft-putting in the dating world and it’s oft-putting in a sales call as well.
    You want to build her interest and curiosity so that at the end of the night she wants to know more and will have an equal interest in another date.
    Part of the problem is pushy parents (managers) who expect you to come back with a significant advancement in the call. “Well? When’s the wedding? Does she want kids? How soon does she want to settle down?”
    Managers need to support the notion that a great sales meeting outcome can simply be – “I was able to peak their interest so that we can have a more meaningful 2nd date.”

    • Great points, Nancy.  I think we could have a lot of fun with this analogy and the selling process…