While working for my dad’s painting company in San Diego (many, many years ago), I once received an estimate request from a prospect through our website, and noticed that he had an unusual first name. I also noticed that he sent the request through his Blackberry, so I knew he was reasonably tech-savvy.
So, I did what any curious guy would do: I Googled him. And, it turned out he was the former CEO of several large, recognizable companies.
I arrived at his house and began doing my typical estimate process: walking around the home, listening, and asking questions. When I began the measuring stage, I then decided to draw on some of my research to start the bonding process.
I wanted to connect with this man and his wife.
I began by stating a few facts about his business success, and I’ll never forget the look on the his face. He responded with something like, “Wow! How did you know I did all of that?”
His wife said, “He probably Googled you, honey!”
This jump-started the conversation like you wouldn’t believe! He began talking about himself and his business successes, and I began to ask him questions about our family business and pick his brain as well.
I walked out of that home with a nice-sized project that turned into close to $100,000 worth of business over the next few months!
The entire conversation and mood changed when the owner started talking about himself. I earned his trust because I was genuinely interested in listening to him and hearing his story.
Not every story has this kind of cool ending, and not every prospect is a Fortune 500 CEO either. Everyone does, however, have a story, and most people want to share it and have someone express interest in them.
Do You Research Your Prospects?
My story above took place over 15 years ago; since then the Internet has become so much more powerful, and there are more tools at your disposal than ever before to research your prospects.
There’s no need to dig too deep and scare them with intimate details, but knowing just a little bit about them can make ALL the difference in establishing a strong connection that can turn into a fruitful relationship. It might just be a game changer!
Better Technology Doesn’t Mean We’re Better At Connecting with People
We really have no excuse not to know more about our prospects, so why is there often such a disconnect?
Ready? Here it is.
Many salespeople today are running around just trying to keep up with the number of leads they get each week, and they become order-takers and not relationship builders.
This may work in a strong economy, but a few years from now, order taking just won’t have any value or relevance. There’s no relationship. If you want to be memorable, taken seriously, and become a service provider FOR LIFE, you need to invest in your client and take a genuine interest in them.
I have been busy enough these days that I’ve had to hire home improvement companies to service my home. Being a marketer in this industry honestly makes it kind of fun to hire service providers and analyze how they run their business, what they do well, and where they miss the mark.
Overall, I’ve had mostly positive experiences with the local companies I’ve hired. Not one of them, however, did any research on me, the buyer. Not a single service technician, sales rep, or even the owner himself knew anything about me when we first met.
Why is that important to me? Well, I really have no relationship with these companies. They fulfilled their purpose: they showed up, did the work, and left, but I feel no connection or loyalty there. In fact, I barely remember who I hired!
Give It a Shot for Yourself! You Have Nothing to Lose
So there you have it.
I guarantee you will close more jobs and maintain solid relationships with prospects-turned-customers if you research and understand something interesting about the prospect before you even show up to his or her home or place of business.
What do YOU think? Do you agree? How do you practice this or something similar now?
P.S. If you’ve never read the book by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, definitely put it on your short list.