By Terri Champelli
Sales and Business Development
Let’s be real.
This term has been thrown about in all walks of life for years, with the intent of requesting your audience to, in essence, cut the crap. In interpersonal skills and relations, it is important to be real. For your friends, family, neighbors, this is a given. In sales, it should be no different. Here, we are using this term to guide authentic connection as a pathway to meeting your clients’ needs and finding new referrals along the way.
It is important to not look at this as a strategy but as a necessity. We all live our lives being “sold to” every moment of the day through billboards, commercials, social media ads scrolling on our phones, and so on. We are navigating this world that takes personal information and uses it to sell us something that an algorithm has determined we need, which is fine in some cases. The algorithms that help send you ads for that new car you’ve been researching are actually quite helpful. But when your arena in sales is that of a service within a service industry, with the goal of helping nonprofits and of supporting those that are making the world a better place – being real takes on a whole new meaning.
Here are a few tips to help you show up as your true self and navigate that next networking event, form deeper connections, and lead your organization further towards your future goals.
- Show up as the best version of yourself. Your headspace is everything, and first impressions do matter. Get a good night’s sleep, cross off a few more “to-dos” from your list prior to arriving at the meeting or event, and have fun.
- Not every person you meet is meant to be a new client or partner. But every person you meet comes to the table with a broad history and a wealth of knowledge waiting to be discovered.
- Look at who that person is with curiosity and compassion.
- Try to avoid the basic “what do you do” question because it can prompt a basic and curated response.
- Lean into a more open-ended starter and try a phrase that allows the audience to navigate the direction the conversation goes. “Tell me about your book and how you came to be an author” or “Your association is so active in our community; I’d love to hear how you found yourself in the role you are in now.”
- With openness you will always find a commonality that will solidify and deepen the connection you have just made. Ask deeper questions to lead the conversation (just like you would when meeting someone for the first time), and you’ll find them opening up further. You will make a great impression as being authentic and caring while making a deeper connection.
- Jot down anything that stands out as a point of interest between you two. This will ease the follow-up process in the days to come.
- Be honest in how you see the relationship proceeding and let the prospective client know what you think may be a good fit. Or, if not a good fit as a partner, play the matchmaker and relay which of your contacts could be a good fit for them. It validates your intentions and lets the person know that you truly have their best interests at heart.
Whether you are in a sales position on behalf of your own business or as an employee of another, know you are representing more than just yourself: you are an extension of a brand on a larger scale. You never know where these conversations will take you, your business, and your future, so make the most of every meeting. Be real. Be authentic. And have fun!