Have you ever left the initial meeting with a prospect saying to yourself the meeting went great and you immediately tell your sales manager about it knowing you have a potentially new customer in the near future? And then you never get the next meeting and wonder how in the world they fell off the map after that first great meeting. Maybe you misread the situation? Maybe the customer wasn’t honest with you? Were you really aware of what was going on in the meeting or did you miss something? Social awareness is a must to be successful in sales. It is the ability to understand the setting we are in with others and what is really taking place in the meeting with the prospect or customer. Are they agreeing with us? Are they really engaged in our conversation?
The sales profession is about connecting with others, gaining their interest and building long term relationships. In Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Travis Bradberry mentions some significant statistics about the importance of emotional intelligence:
– Emotional Intelligence account for 58% of performance in all job types
– 90% of high performers have high emotional intelligence
– Only 36% of people can identify emotions as they happen
– The brain is hardwired to give emotions the upper hand over logic
If this is the case then being aware of what’s going on in a sales meeting emotionally is critical for success in moving the sales process forward. People buy based on their emotions and then justify their decision with logic, which means we need to connect emotionally with our prospects and customers. People buy from people who take the time to build a relationship. Sales people that are good at building relationships understand what the customer needs, what they value and what’s important to them in the long term. It’s all about putting the customer first and truly caring for their interests and not about prioritizing the sale of your products and services. The sale is the by-product of successfully building a trusting relationship. So when it comes to the initial meeting with a prospect what should we focus on to improve our social awareness?
I believe there are two points to consider that can improve our social awareness in a sales meeting. First is to be clear on your intentions for the meeting. It’s not about trying to make a sale, it’s about looking for the opportunity to show the prospect you are interested in them and how you can potentially add value to their business initiatives. What expectations can you set at the start of the meeting that will get them to see you are interested in helping solve their challenges or achieve their goals? As an example, “What I’d like to do during our time together is understand your objectives as it relates to your operation to see if our company might be of value in helping you accomplish them.”
The second point is attentiveness. Be aware of both your energy level and that of the prospect. Enthusiasm is contagious and the customer will be more apt to listen if you are excited about the opportunity to support them. Selling is the transfer of enthusiasm and their energy level will be influenced by ours. One thing we must be aware of is not just our outward energy but our inward attentiveness to how they are interacting and that we are intently listening to what they are saying. A customer can tell whether or not you are tuned into what they are saying. An important characteristic of attentiveness is eye contact. Maintaining consistent eye contact with the prospect will help you to see that they are engaged with your conversation. Ask questions that are pertinent to the conversation. Maintain a dialogue where the prospect is doing more than 50% of the talking. The result will help you to determine if the prospect is positive, negative or indifferent towards the conversation and then you can adjust accordingly.
When prospects clearly see that our intention is to add value and support their goals and objectives they will be open and willing to converse. When they see that you are truly attentive to hearing what they have to say and you’re asking impactful questions, your chances of getting the next meeting drastically improves.
Remember selling is all about people wanting to do business with people they enjoy and trust.