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Posted: November 23, 2010

Selling is like dating

Five ways to tell if customers are leading you on

Liz Wendling

On a recent trip back from New Jersey, I had a sales conversation with two men in the airport, and one of them boldly stated that sales are no different than dating. His remark reminded of a movie from a few years back titled "He's Just Not That Into You," and I began to see the parallels between dating and sales.

Sales, like dating, takes insight, skill and discretion to know when your customer is truly interested. Your potential customers may play some of the same games that are present in the dating world. Will they agree to a second meeting? Will they return your calls? Will they tell you the truth? Will they be honest about their selection process? Will they agree to take the next step? Will they play hard to get? Will they lead you on? Will they work with you until someone better comes along?
Here's a few ways to tell if potential customers are "into" you or leading you on:

1.They're open to sharing information about themselves and their company. When potential customers are willing to answer questions about their needs, wants, pains and struggles, they're telling you that they have a problem and might need you to fix it. That is a really good sign they are interested in you. If they are unwilling to answer your questions openly and honestly, they may be playing hard to get or just not "into" you.

2. They're willing to engage in conversation and return your calls and emails. If they have respect for you, they will listen to what you have to say and trust that your information is worthy of hearing. When you are successful at this, your potential customers are showing signs they are interested in you. If they are avoiding you, not getting back to you, being vague or not telling you the truth, they are either not interested or leading you on. You might need to dump them.

3. They're willing to go to the next step, set up another appointment and continue the conversation. This is a very clear sign they are interested in you. If this important step is missed you will instantly go to the place that salespeople hate, "voicemail abyss" - the clearest sign of all that they are not interested in you. If they do happen to pick up the phone, you will hear, "I will give you a call sometime," "I am really busy can you get back to me back in a week" or "I am still interested, just not making a decision right now." They're either not interested or can't tell you the truth about what is really going on.

4. They're willing to ask and answer tough questions. If they are open to a dialogue that flushes out their real agenda, reasons for meeting and what their bottom line is, then they might be interested in you. If you ask tough questions that they're not ready or willing to answer and get irritated, they most likely are trying to hide their true intentions or using your for free information. Clearly they only want you for one thing and not interested in you.

5. There are excited to meet you. When you meet them in person, they shake your hand, smile and make eye contact. Body language is an important cue and if potential customers speak to you with their arms folded and answer you with short "yes" and "no" answers, they are just not interested in you. If you get a bad vibe, trust your intuition and politely end the meeting. When your potential customers ask you questions and keep the conversation going chances are they're interested in you and might be open to second meeting.

So, just like dating, your potential customers may lose interest and reject you. They may be shopping around to make your competitor jealous or they may simply change their mind. They may already be committed to someone else. They may already have an alternative solution but don't want you to go away just yet, because they're insecure, so they string you along.

Like dating, the reasons are endless and salespeople need to see the signs and walk away. Stop calling, stop emailing, stop begging for one more meeting and stop acting desperate. Dump them and move on.

When you are creating value, being honest, sharing information and showing respect but your potential customer is unwilling to reciprocate, it's not worth it to spend your time on a relationship that is going nowhere. Remember it's not what you sell, it's how you sell.
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Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales expert and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back. 

Go to: www.insightbusinessconsultants.com or email Liz@insightbusinessconsultants.com

Check out Liz's latest book, Everyone Sells Something!  http://goo.gl/1prAlm

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

So beautifully written Liz http://www.cobizmag.com/images/smileys/smile.gif I value your perspective and see great wisdom in you. I love this article! Simple insights, yet powerfully relevant. Keep up the great work! --George By George Ira Carroll on 2010 11 24

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