The business world mimics life more than you might realize.
For example, to grow a relationship in life is a slow, deliberate process. Similarly, building your authority and growing a relationship (or developing a loyal customer) in business takes time.
When you think of a business interaction, perhaps you think of a slick used car salesman who’s pushing you to buy the used Honda with the gold fleck paint job the second you step on the lot.
He isn’t interested in what you want. He is only interested in what he wants to sell you. He’s looking at it all wrong.
Good business relationships and sales are achieved over time, like a relationship.
A skilled salesman knows this and doesn’t push too hard too fast (unlike the slick car salesman) but instead listens to his customer’s needs/wants and works to fulfill them if at all possible.
This would be like when you first meet a girl at a bar, you instantly ask her to marry you. That's just like rushing a sale.
Why You Can’t Rush a Sale
Did you know that you aren’t likely to sell someone something during your first meeting?
According to statistics from the National Sales Executive Association, only 2% of sales are made during the first meeting.
In most cases– some 80%–sales aren’t made until anywhere from the fifth to the twelfth contact.
What Does That Mean?
So, you now know that pushing too hard too fast won’t work.
This fact was further confirmed in a new study featured in theHarvard Business Review. The study found that in most cases a buyer’s mind is already made up when a salesperson first engages them.
This means that when you as a salesperson approach a prospect for the first time in order to sell them something, they already know who they’re going to buy the product from if they choose to buy, 60% of the time.
Unfortunately, it most likely won’t be you, but instead someone who has already taken the time to cultivate a relationship.
What does that mean then for you as a business owner or salesperson? It means you should invest in follow up marketing, as it is essential for building the kind of conditions needed for a sale.
This means you have built a relationship with a customer so that you are there on the front end of a sale. The customer knows you, trusts you and wants to do business with you.
As a result, when they are ready to buy, you are in a prime spot.
How a TV Show Reinforced This Lesson
As we have explained, rushing a relationship doesn’t work, whether you are talking about business or friendships. An especially amusing episode of the much beloved show Seinfeld communicates this perfectly.
During the episode, Jerry strikes up a conversation with baseball great Keith Hernandez. Unfortunately, things become a bit uncomfortable due to a weird request.
Hernandez asks Jerry to help him as he moves out of his apartment too early in the relationship. Jerry finds this odd, and is taken aback by his request. After all, he just met the guy.
Jerry says this about the situation “I mean, I hardly know the guy. That’s a big step in a relationship. The biggest. That’s like going all the way!”
While this comment comes from a show based on satire, there is a great deal of truth to what is said.
Asking someone to buy something from you or do something for you (as in the Seinfeld episode) when you don’t have an established relationship won’t usually work.
Remember, it’s not just about meeting a customer’s need, or making a sale. It’s about being trusted to meet that need.
So, next time you need to make a sale, think of the interaction as a process, not a onetime event. Don’t make the mistake of asking someone to commit to you when you just met them.