If you’ve been in sales for any length of time, you have probably heard the rapport-building advice that upon entering a prospect’s office, you should look for ways to connect with what is important to him/her on an individual level. Pictures of family on his desk? Talk about your kids. Golf trophies on her bookshelf? Tell her about your trip to Pebble Beach. The theory? Practicing this method provides common ground between you and the prospect–important for laying a relationship foundation.
It’s decent advice on the surface, as honing in on prospect passions is clearly an effective method for easing initial introductions. However, deeper relationship building requires expanding this practice beyond the initial meeting. Salespeople should move past thinking the method is just an ice-breaking gimmick. Instead, sales pros should focus on ways to build a deeper shared value framework between you as the seller and your prospect (or strategic partner) over the long-term.
Here’s one process for doing this:
- Observe. Make a concerted effort to become more aware of interests and values.
- Capture. Make notes about the interests/values you uncover and capture these in your contact database.
- Review. Revisit the values you have observed regularly so you’re tuned in.
- Collect. Be on constant lookout for things you know will pique your prospects’ interest or tap into mutually shared values. Simple things like news articles or pertinent websites are great.
- Share. Commit to passing along content that will be of interest to prospects and reinforce shared values.
- Be Genuine. Don’t overdo it. Trying to “force” shared values where none really exist will backfire on you.
Leveraging shared values takes some effort, but it will help you develop deeper prospect relationships–the absolute key to “owning an RFP” and winning deals.