Of the many networking skills you’ll want in your arsenal, showing people why they should join your organization is among the most critical. There is no set formula to do this, however, because each person is different and will want different things—wealth, prestige, family life, wellness, time freedom, and so on.
One approach people try is hard-selling, which we can safely say is hated by just about everyone. Hard selling involves pushing the actual product onto the prospect, using the sheer energy of your presentation to override any concerns or objections they may have. This is why many people pretend to not be at home when the salesman comes a-knocking’ on the door.
Nobody likes being sold!! A client may buy your product or service to get you out of their hair, but you’ll lose a lot of goodwill and probably the chance to re-sell too. It’s even more disastrous for building a network because your organization won’t have a concrete relationship to stand on. You’ll have a cascade of fall-outs as soon as you turn your back on your new recruits.
There’s another approach that not only stands a better chance of closing a prospect but also fosters goodwill and a sense of cooperation: presenting your business as the best answer to your client’s need.
This is the opposite of hard-selling. You do less talking and more listening. You need to have some patience, a few good questions, and a sympathetic ear. Your goal is to find your prospect’s specific need before positioning your business as a solution.
Imagine sitting down with a prospect for the first time. Do you go straightaway into a presentation? Hardly! You’ll want to get to know them first. You try and chat for a while to build rapport. This is an excellent time to ask a few probing questions.
Probing is a subtle art. You need to come from genuine interest, without coming across as nosy. The key is to get the other person talking about themselves. This is usually easy to do, since we’re our own favorite subject.
Your objective is to steer the conversation towards topics that are important to them. Ask them to elaborate, clarify, share stories. Doing so will eventually lead them to talk about what’s missing from their lives.
Here are some topics that can lead towards more meaningful conversation:
• How is your wife doing?
• How are your children?
• How are your parents?
• You must be doing very well in your job now, right?
• Does your boss treat you well?
• Do you have time for yourself or your family?
• Are you happy with where you are?
• So what’s next for you?
• Are you aiming to buy a new home/car/business?
• So are you thinking about retirement? How’s it going so far?
You can also steer the topic towards health, children’s education, or any present or future expenses. Find out where the problems lie. Maybe they’re worried about financing their home. Maybe they’re dissatisfied with their paycheck or their job status. Maybe they’re burdened with supporting their parents or an unemployed sibling. Maybe they’re facing an uncertain financial future.
Take the time to sincerely listen, to empathize with your prospect. Let them talk. Resist the temptation to jump in with advice. It’s important that you understand what they want and that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. Only after they’ve finished talking do you thank them for sharing and then lead into your presentation:
“I understand you have these concerns and I’d like to see if I can help. I know a way that can benefit you financially/career-wise/health-wise, and you can do it at your own time and your own pace. Would you like to hear it?”
When they say yes, proceed to the presentation, making sure to point out how it will indeed help with their concerns. Come from the spirit of wanting to help. Show them that an extra means of leveraged income will solve a majority of their problems, and that you can coach them on how to do it.
By establishing a specific need, you have the basis for a business relationship. Your client won’t feel that you sold them something; they’ll feel as if you helped them make a wise choice. It will be easier to close the deal. In fact, you won’t have to convince them—they’ll convince themselves!