I was a teenager when I first read Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people”. It evoked a lifelong curiosity about what makes people tick and how to deal with different personalities.

Which eventually led me to a career in sales.

I honestly can’t remember how many books on sales I read. Everything from persuasion to dealing with multiple stakeholders.

Interestingly the vast majority focused on what I believe is an outdated philosophy. Which is people buy from those they know, like and trust.

Ergo, building rapport and relationships was front and centre.

But times have changed.

Most of us do our own research before deciding what we want – and in a B2B environment studies show most buyers don’t want to speak with a salesperson until quite far down the track.

Given this, advice like first build rapport, have them know you and like you isn’t useful. Neither is focusing on features and benefits hoping to persuade them.

A key to successful engagement is rapidly earning respect and trust by showing prospects you know them. Bring them insights as to why what they’re doing may be costing them in some way.

Don’t talk about solutions until they recognise for themselves there’s an issue and it’s worth solving.

Put yourself in their shoes.

Realise most of us hate change and will stick to the status quo wherever possible.

We’re thinking (and often not voicing):

Change involves effort. Working differently. What if it doesn’t work? Will it waste time, effort and money implementing it? Will it negatively impact me?

To overcome this, show them you understand them and their current situation. Delve into the issues. Bring some of the unspoken, hidden thoughts to the surface.

Address the elephant in the room. Theirs…

Explain all the things that could go wrong. And what could go right.

Sometimes honesty is the best policy. That engenders trust. That you’ll act as a trusted advisor, not some slick salesperson who disappears once the sale is made, leaving you holding the baby.

If you’d to take advantage of my expertise and decades of experience helping business owners and sales teams generate more business, reach out. We have a number of programs which will accelerate your results.

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