The term prospecting, we have been led to believe, is synonymous with sales success.
Prospecting is a verb, it is a thing we do.
As sales professionals, we turn leads into prospects (nouns) and then we turn these prospects into time-based opportunities and then ultimately into customers.
We have been taught, institutionalised even, into seeing other human beings as “prospects”. There is even a saying that I grew up on, which says ”Everyone is a prospect.”
We have simply inherited a sales process that is no longer effective today.
While prospecting may have served us in the past, as we are evolving in our consciousness as human beings and especially because we are no longer buying & selling in a caveat emptor (buyer beware), but a caveat venditor (seller beware) world
…..and even more especially, because we are operating in the 4th Industrial revolution of AI & Robotics.
Consequently, we need to, with immediate effect, face up to the fact that prospecting is fundamentally flawed, outdated and ultimately dead.
The fundamental flaw lies in the fact that we are referring to other human beings as “prospects".
We are turning human beings into prospects and it is those very beings whom we want to romance to become our most valuable clients. When we refer to our future clients as prospects, we are unwittingly marginalising them and they can feel this on both a mental & visceral level, whether we are engaging with them virtually or physically or both.
Words are powerful because they carry energy, sound, and frequency, which are some of the building “blocks” of matter.
We need to stop prospecting and start connecting.
Brene Brown defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement and when they service sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Within all human beings, there is a deep yearning, a longing for true authentic Human-to-Human (H2H) connections. This desire lies in all of us, our parents, our children, our friends, our neighbours and indeed our soon-to-be MVC’s (most valuable clients).
If you want to optimise your chances of being liked and trusted, STOP Prospecting & start Connecting.
Internally within the four corners of every office, we must become mindful of the words we are using.
Instead of asking;
“How many new prospects did you make this week”
“How many new connections did you make this week?”
Instead of saying:
“How are you prospecting?”
“Walk me through the ways in which you are seeking & building new connections?”
My top 5 ways to optimise your Human Connectivity Super Powers are summarised below:
1.Ditch your cell phone.
Nothing screams “You don't matter” more than a mere glance at your cell phone.
We need to ensure we switch our phones off and keep it in our bags or cars when we are on any connection meeting and that goes for virtual meetings too. It sounds simple but very few of us will go through an entire day without being interrupted or bypassed because of a smartphone.
There is no app for true authentic connection making, we cannot swipe right or left when it comes to the art & science of cultivating new connections.
True connections are born out of putting our phones away, being present, being curious and practising experiential empathy such as asking;
“Hey, how is your Mom, I heard she was ill” and truly listening for the response…or
“Hey, how are you getting on with your new connection (“fill in the blank name/company name”), can I help in any way?”
2. Embrace Vulnerability.
This one is probably the hardest of all to get up and running but it is the most important if we truly want to build and sustain an authentic strategy of cultivating connections.
Vulnerability takes courage.
Vulnerability means having that difficult conversation, falling in love, putting ourselves out there, making an impact, saying no, saying yes, asking for the meeting, asking for the business.
Embracing vulnerability is the ultimate secret of every successful salesperson that is differentiating him/herself today.
I had the honour of speaking at the 2017 Saleshacker summit in London with the number 1 Hubspot sales rep "Sharen Murnaghan" and one could very quickly see it was a mixture of Sharen's hard work ethic as well as her ability to be vulnerable and embrace her own humaneness that made others feel comfortable in her presence that was the key to her global success.
“We impress people with our strength but we connect with people through our weakness” Craig Groeschel.
3. Generate Energy
High energy levels are insanely attractive and dramatically increase our ability to connect with others. The highest performers on any sales team are typically the ones who have the highest amounts of energy. Energy is contagious and we all need to be responsible for the energy we bring in to a room.
There are a number of ways to increase your energy vibrations and most techniques take only a few minutes to work. Effective Breathwork and setting intentions are two strategies I personally rely on before attempting any new connection.
4. Seek to ask better questions than anyone else and practice experiential empathy as much as you possibly can, while actively listening to their responses.
One of my go-to-questions, that rarely fails me when I want to increase my probability of making an authentic connection is;
‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how did that make you feel? 1 being (state low emotion), 10 (state high emotion).
So for example:
“On a scale of 1 to 10 Barry, how did having to work over the holiday period, due to system downtime, make you feel….. 1 meaning you were jumping for joy because you had to go into the office or 10 meaning being mad as hell…..?!”
Experiential empathy is when we can truly walk in another person's shoes.
One of my clients, Bizimply (Scheduling & attendance software) are really good at practising experiential empathy. They do this by physically going to their connections place of work and seeing a day in the life of a restaurant owner, trying to juggle people, schedules and payroll. They put themselves in the other person's struggle and then offer up real-life solutions to alleviate their potential client's daily struggles.
5. Have Fun!
Set the intention that you are excited about making another authentic connection with (fill in the name, for example, Barry) and you are looking forward to learning more and having fun. This represents a growth mindset mentality and is another fundamental aspect of successful selling.
Science shows us that when we are having fun we dramatically increase our potential to connect.
Sean Anchor in his book “The Happiness Advantage” explains how happy sales professionals earn 37% more revenues than their unhappy counterparts.
People want to be around happy people and that goes for our connections and clients too!
I love the job I do because it allows me to make meaningful new connections every day. As a parent to a young boy, I also have another very important job and that is to ensure that every time he walks into the room or every time I walk into his, my eyes light up and I vibrate massive amounts of positive energy. Why? Because it is in those moments that I am reminded that I AM responsible today for the number of human connections he has the capacity to make in the future.........
May you become the happiest, wealthiest, most fulfilled sales warrior you know.