Humans are really good at thinking about the short-term.
It’s been thousands of years. The threat of being attacked by a tiger are small these days.
But our brains and bodies still react as if we need to escape a tiger attack.
When a tiger would attack us we would devote every resource in our mind and body to escape. It’s all that mattered in the moment.
In the sales world, we often react as if a tiger is attacking. We focus on trying to get a sale as fast as possible. We pressure. We offer discounts. We do whatever it takes to get the short-term reward because it feels like that’s all that matters in the moment.
Certainly you don’t want to turn away someone that is ready to buy right now.
But the best salespeople I’ve come across are actually those that focus on the long-term. They have patience. They make connections today, that lead to “quick” sales years down the road.
Here is how they do it…
1. Identify Target Connections
The best I’ve been around seem to spend a good portion of their time thinking about who they should connect with. Who would benefit most from their product or service. They look for win-win situations. Not just for themselves.
They don’t just focus on companies. They focus on people within the companies. Specific job titles.
2. Learn About Them
Once a type of person is identified, start doing some learning about the person. This used to be difficult. Today, you can find someone via their job title on LinkedIn. Then you can find them on Instagram and Twitter and see what they’ve sharing and liking and engaging with.
Maybe you learn that one person loves dogs. One look at their Instagram tells the story.
Learn as much about the individual as you can. See if you have shared interests. Find unique things that other salespeople would overlook.
This happens all the time in the real world. Salespeople often ask others about their personal interests. It usually leads to the most sales.
3. Connect As You Would At The Grocery Store
Once you know the person and their interest, reach out and introduce yourself just as you would if you were meeting someone for the first time in the grocery store.
Hi – My name is Steve. I like that kind of apple too. Have you ever tried it with peanut butter?
Just things like that. We do it all the time with new people we meet in real life. But in the online world we often skip right to the selling.
You might connect on Instagram. Maybe Twitter. Maybe LinkedIn. That’s not as important as showing an interest in what the person likes. Who they are. You can learn more about them with each interaction, but initially it’s usually best to connect over something a little more personal.
4. Check-In Every So Often
Now is the time to get patient. You don’t jump right from apples to what you sell. You go from apples to pies to sports to family to school to work and then maybe to discussing what you sell.
And it often happens over a couple years.
Your key is to set reminders to check-in once in awhile. Not to pressure about a sale, but to see how they’re doing. Asking about their favorite sports team. Just asking a question or two. Building the rapport.
The sales opportunity may or may not come eventually, but if you do this with enough people you’ll start noticing that “quick” sales start to happen. Once your connections get into the market they think of you. Or if they know someone that is in buying mode they refer them to you.
5. Embrace Serendipitous Connection
One other note – don’t deter connections that seem a little random, serendipitous or irrelevant. You never know what those may lead to.
On LinkedIn over the years my policy has been to connect with all kinds of people. Those in many industries. From all areas of the world. The more you open yourself to meeting new people the more opportunity you bring for connections that can lead to sales.
But that’s not necessarily the goal. Maybe it just leads to a positive relationship for you and the other person.
If you’re closed off to these connections you’re missing out on the positive that you may not even realize exists.
One of the keys to success in sales seems to be having patience. Making connections today that lead to sales at some point in the future. In our world we often focus on the short-term. It’s an opportunity for those that are willing to play the long game because they’ll make the type of connections that lead to positive outcomes.