An Open Letter to All Business Development and Sales People

Are you a business development or salesperson who’s asking people to marry you before the first date? 

Stop being so forward!

You may want to close business as fast as possible, but whatever happened to building relationships?  

In a dating situation, you would probably go on several dates before daring to ask for a long-term relationship. Besides, part of the fun of dating is thinking about the last date, between dates.  

Guess what, selling is no different. 

But how do you keep your prospects thinking of you between calls? What is the secret? Is it language, a phrase, or a technique that only successful people know?  

Nope, it’s all about these five steps.

Before I share the steps, I want to tell you why I know this works. Our company used these methods to grow our business from zero to 2 million in valuation. We did that in less than two years. So, this is not pie-in-the-sky stuff here — it is real and it works. It might sound too simple, but sometimes simple is the best approach. 


1. Make it about them  

The first few touches are not about you at all. If you make them about you, well, you’ll lose. It’s critical that you spend far more time listening to your prospective clients than you do talking.  And give nonverbal cues that demonstrate that you are listening. Show respect, and show that you actually care about your prospective clients as people, even if your solution might not be the right fit. By the way, if you are in the dating pool, this approach works incredibly well. If you do this step well, prospects will ask you to follow up with them. If you have to ask when you can follow up, you did not do this step well.

2. Personalize Your Content

Have content available and tailor your next piece of communication to suit their needs and interests. Your first touch after the first meeting should have nothing to do with business; show you were listening. If you had gone on an actual first date, you could send that person their favorite flower, a magazine that highlights their biggest passion, an introduction to a new band, or, even better, send them a puppy. Everyone loves puppies. Ok, I am kidding about the puppy, but you should have white papers, podcasts, articles, or videos handy to send to your new prospect. Do this once a week on different days for as long as it takes.

3. Throw away your time expectations 

No one ever buys on your timeline. Your sales manager may have a timeline they’d like you to hit; however, times have changed and hopefully your manager can understand that. I cannot emphasize enough that prospects will make decisions on their own timeline, not yours. 

4. Connect with them on LinkedIn and comment on their posts

Show your prospects that you’re paying attention. People love that. Connect with them on LinkedIn and pay attention to what they post. But don’t just like their posts; comment with thoughtful messages. Share their posts, too. If you don’t think you have time to do this, you’re wrong. Carve out ten minutes every day to engage with your prospects on LinkedIn.

5. Ask them to do business with you

When you see an opening, ask them to do business with you. But don’t force it.  Be nice, but persistent. If you know your solution is really beneficial to your prospects, tell them! Don’t sell them, show them.  

As with all risks, go in positive and be patient. All good things come when you don’t rush it. If you develop and nurture these relationships, you will have great referral sources and a pipeline that, over time, will allow you to be the most successful business development or salesperson in your office.

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