Remember when it was said that people bought from people they like?
Back then, salespeople were encouraged to take customers out for a round of golf, introduce them to other important people in their network, and bring coffee or donuts to a prospect’s office. They remembered a prospect’s birthday, their kids’ names, and their favorite vacation spots. Legendary sales expert Harvey Mackay even developed “The Mackay 66,” a list of questions salespeople needed to ask to create a strong bond with prospects and, consequently, increase the odds of winning deals through relationships.
I used to keep a copy of the Mackay 66 on my desk just so I’d remember the questions to ask. And I even added fields to my old Act! database to track the answers.
Today, that art form is considered a relic — an antiquated way of doing things in an age of metrics, Big Data, and sales automation. Instead, salespeople and executives prefer to think of sales as a binary equation that boils down to a very simple formula: Optimize and master the sales process and you’ll subsequently master your quota.
Here’s the problem with that way of thinking.
People(customers, prospects, contacts, etc.) aren’t machines that can be manipulated by process. They’re humans whose emotions and biases factor into their decision making.
Yes, technology and data have made executing the sales process more effective and efficient. But at the end of every campaign you execute, there is a person with a heart. If your focus is only on process related questions you’ll miss a big opportunity to create a genuine relationship. Of course you have to know the next step in the process, the requirements gathering questions you need to ask, and the objections you’re likely to encounter.
But if that’s all you do, you’ll invariably miss a big opportunity to appeal to your prospects’ human side.
And yes, that still matters, and no, LinkedIn isn’t enough.
Here’s why: With all the focus on moving quickly, acquiring the right data, and negotiating favorable terms, salespeople aren’t winning a higher percentage of their opportunities. Why is that? Because they’ve forgotten the art of selling with their heart, not just their head. Not counting on the routine, but on the fun, too.
As a result, I think it’s time we re-visit that apparently ancient saying: “People buy from people they like.” It’s still relevant and the more your approach is built around it, the more successful you’ll be.
So, if you aren’t winning at least 40%(better yet 60%) of your qualified opportunities, I encourage you to take a hard look at your process-oriented sales approach. My guess is that it’s desperately lacking heart — and the sooner you realize that, the sooner your win rate will sky rocket.