“Real clients put skin in the game” is an adage used in the business training I’m a part of.
The adage identifies if you’re connecting with a qualified prospect. Are they committed to doing something you’ve asked (e.g. complete key forms prior to the meeting)?
While we business owners ask this of our prospects, are we willing to put this same skin in and invest in the prospect?
This question came up as my colleagues supported me in raising funds for a local charity.
Long story short: over 10 weeks, I signed up for a five-km run; asked my networks for donations, promising to show my training progress along the way; encountered a global pandemic that forced rescheduling of the race to the fall; still collected donations and ran the five km on the original date, on my own and physically distant.
Two-thirds of the donations didn’t come in until the final week of my training, most the night before my ‘race’ day. They included notes: “you worked so hard to achieve this,” “you inspired me to go do my own,” “you showed the effort and I support you.”
It wasn’t so much about the cause I was raising money for. It was about investing in the commitment I showed to them prior to donating.
It’s a lesson we’d be wise to remember in business.
Before a prospect signs on the dotted line, we’re already in a relationship. It requires us to demonstrate how to be there for the prospect before they become a client.
First and foremost, remove your ego
A decade ago, I ran a half marathon. This five km was my first race since and I had to start back running from the very beginning. All my ego had to go if I was going to commit to this run without quitting two weeks in. Again.
Prospects want to know that your ego won’t keep you from hearing their real concerns and needs. You know your business, they know theirs. So stop talking and start listening.
When you do talk, ask questions, be engaged and gain a real understanding of what their pains are. This creates better relationships and ensures you work with the right client.
You may discover in your committed listening that you don’t have the right solution for the prospect. Tell them this. They’ll thank you.
Then do what you say you will
Leading up to my run, I shared my 30 training runs via social media. Through all weather, running struggles and physical distancing, they saw the effort I promised.
You may have asked a prospect to show up to your initial meeting having done some homework (e.g. bring a clear budget). Are you doing the same for them?
Take the time to learn about them and their business pre-meeting and show you’re interested in them beyond a sale. Be on time for meetings, including video calls. Send them the followup information you promise when you say you will.
When no one is looking, be the same company you are in front of your prospects.
Show your values in action
The only reason some people donated to my run cause was because they saw my commitment to it. They didn’t have a personal connection with the non-profit.
Rather, they invested in the cause I’m passionate about because of my values – much like our businesses do with each other in building rapport and real connection. They saw that I was invested and trusted that their dollars would be honoured by my commitment. I was all in, so they were.
“Hope without action is a just wish,” says Lindsay Recknell, a Calgary Expert in Hope.
Improve your prospect relationship by actively demonstrating commitment rather than just wishing they become a client through ‘great’ sales skills.
Next time you connect with a prospect, actively put your skin in the game and show your prospect you’re invested in them.
What actions show your commitment to your prospects? Share your insights and questions with Lindsay. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org