In the movie, The Field of Dreams, mysterious voices told Kevin Costner, “If you build it, he will come.”
Selling is a little like that, too. If your only contact with a sales prospect is a bi-monthly phone call when you tell whoever will listen to you about your company’s newest offering after which you drop a couple of brochures in the mail, and disappear for another two weeks, the prospect is unlikely to reach out to you in times of need. You haven’t bothered to build a relationship, so there is no reason for the prospect to come to you.
Why Relationships Matter
Suppose you were facing a difficult problem in your own life. Would you talk to the guy in the apartment down the hall whom you nod to absent-mindedly every day, or would you go to a trusted friend and confidante? Most people would choose the friend every time. After all, your friend knows you. He or she knows what you want from life and what makes you tick. Knowing this valuable information allows your friend to provide a solution that is tailor-made for you, instead of meaningless platitudes.
As you build relationships with your prospects, you will learn about their company’s values, mission statement, and goals, triumphs and problems. This knowledge will help you step in at the right moment with the right product.
Building a Relationship
You’ve probably been through all sorts of classes and seminars to teach you how to make a strong sales presentation, how to counter a prospect’s objections, and how to follow up with phone calls, letters, and emails, but have you ever been to a training event that focused on listening skills?
The best way to build a relationship is not by talking. It is by listening. The next time you call a prospect, try saying something like, “I’d really like to get to know you better so I can understand the issues you’re facing and offer any help I can. Are there any insurance issues that have been troubling you?”
Then wait quietly for the answer. It may be a long time in coming. Chances are, no insurance agent has ever asked the prospect that kind of question before. But when the answer does come, you can bet it will contain valuable information that will improve your chances of making a sale – if not today, then down the road.
Continue to build your relationship by making your phone calls about your prospect’s needs rather than your own. Like the movie said, “If you build it, he will come.”