You’ve applied every bit of the sales or coaching process toward your prospect or team member. You’ve checked every box on a form regarding discovery or assessment. Yet, for whatever reason, you don’t seem to be making traction in the relationship. What gives?
The reason the aforementioned approaches are not foolproof is because forms and processes don’t define every scenario; each is different. And that’s why it’s all the more imperative to meet folks where they want to be met.
Customer example: You’re charged with selling your product or service, and while you can get a prospect to talk to you, they want to talk about something else (that you may or may not be able to help them with, or that does not fit into your purview). Part of establishing and fostering a mutually beneficial partnership with your clients is listening to this real-life immediate need, handling it in a way that can establish trust and dependability, and working with them on what they want to work with so you can eventually get to what your priority is. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve entered a dialogue with a customer or potential client 100% under the pretense of what they explicitly stated they wanted to discuss or under the banner of something not really in my swim lane only to be able to add value in that arena and emerge with pipeline under my priorities because of it. Meeting a customer where they want to be met could look like a variety of things, but I’ve gone so far as even introducing a friend at a competitor just so the client knew that no matter what it was, I’d steer them right. They came back to me in the future and became a long-lasting partnership.
Employee/Co-Worker Example: There are a lot of guidelines in place, often handed down from folks from above in the food chain, on how we work together as teams, as peers, as manager-employee. Appraisals and job performance tools and metrics and even call evaluation forms are all devised to encapsulate the effectiveness of everyone in doing their job and meeting expectations. That said, do you feel that your needs as an employee are always met? If you’re a manager, are you truly at the pulse of what’s important to your employees?
I saw a statistic recently that cited 70%+ of managers felt they were highly regarded by and in tune with their employees and the reality was 30%+ of employees actually reciprocated that sentiment. This discrepancy spells out a real need to ensure we as leaders are attuned with our workforce and that we as employees are expressing our needs and goals and ensuring they are being met.
On interview day, we’re pledging to one another and on hire date signing a contract: the employer and manager agree to provide the structure, training and ongoing support employees need and deserve while the employee commits to being the person they claim to be on interview day. Once again – it’s a mutually beneficial partnership. We have to remember that whether or not we agree with everything that happens, we are paid to be ambassadors of our business and play the role we committed to. That said, it requires mutual accountability – if either side is letting the other down, this must be tactfully and respectfully communicated.
We can meet another member of any relationship where they want to be met by:
- Asking, listening and understanding. There’s no better way to understand the other person’s priorities than asking and being open to where that dialogue goes. Often, we will not be able to get to our own personal priority right out of the gate – that’s not what a partnership is about. But if we are both transparent with one another about mutual goals and desires for the partnership, we have a greater ability to proceed with both parties’ interests in mind.
- Being flexible and patient. All relationships will evolve and take you into unknown terrain. It’s impossible to anticipate every twist and turn of a relationship. But provided we approach one another and receive one another with a mutual respect but accountability with each twist, turn or challenge, we can have fruitful partnerships.
- Address the roadblocks. Don’t let bumps in the road or issues (real or perceived) fester. This can only lead to issues or miscommunication. In this digital world where we’re on e-mail threads and IM’s, sometimes it’s best to just pick up the phone and call the other person if something seems amiss. Meeting someone where they want to be met initially is one thing, but when the target moves we have to move with it.
- Stay attuned and at the pulse of the other person’s interests. Things change. Priorities will shift, specifically as time passes and projects are begun or finished. It’s helpful to have an understanding and roadmap of where the relationship journey is slated to go for both parties. It’s good to have mutually understood milestones to get from where you are to where you want to be. It’s also important to have checks along the way to make sure the milestones are being met and any changes in roadmap are being accounted for. Provided we are plugged in with the priorities of the other person, we can account for changing conditions or interests and evolve our relationships as necessary.
If you attempt to meet someone where they don’t want to be met, you’ll often not be as successful as you would like or could have been. Making relationships work is a very delicate balance which can rapidly fluctuate over time. But if it’s a priority for one or especially both parties, the probability of its success is far greater. I’ve spent years sometimes trying to crack the code of how to get certain prospect’s or co-worker’s attention where they want to be met. This can take a variety of approaches or pitches or types of outreach or sometimes just patience – the planets often eventually align and you catch them at the right time. But – overall – a respectful, transparent approach with an attempt to add value for the other party and a willingness to evolve the dialogue over time coupled with a responsive, consistent, accountable style will garner the highest probability of successful relationship.
Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” and sequels “The Salesman Against the World” and “A Salesman Forever” which take the unique approach of serving as sales/leadership books inside of novels showing proven sales principles designed to birth you into the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G
Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.
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