In this edition of Sales Fails, we discuss the mistake of not connecting others and why that’s a true fail.
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For another business I manage, I had an opportunity for an adaptation of a product that could lead to millions in sales. This was the lay-up of all lay-ups.
I went through my Business Development Manager and presented him with not only the concept, but the technology already built out by a third party. There would be some tech work on their side too, but this was a project that was as much as 99% complete and just needed a key plug-in from my vendor.
Despite discussing the idea (for which he was enthusiastic), creating a walkthrough with screenshots and everything spelled out for his technology decision-makers, it didn’t make it past the first hurdle. I asked him several times to connect me with the tech folks directly but he declined.
His decline was in action, not in words. He reaffirmed the quality and potential of the product, but stated that his tech folks saw too many challenges and that he would keep trying to get them to take a meeting, it never materialized and he never mentioned it again.
Connecting Customers Perceived as a Weakness
He failed to connect me to the people that could help because he couldn’t be instrumental in the process. He knew that once the process left his hands, we wouldn’t need to involve him anymore – it wouldn’t be his win.
He also knew that once I was connected with the technology staff, if it failed to proceed from that point, I might blame him for not seeing it through.
Salespeople have a tremendous fear of being edged out of a situation. Sometimes it happens one a sales floor. The salesperson brings in another from the sales team who might have a particular expertise – the right answer for the customer – but management cuts out the original salesperson to compensate the expert.
By staying in the middle of the situation they maintain a sense of control and perpetually stay involved with the customer, even if that means there is no sale at all.
The Strongest Trait a Salesperson Can Possess
In sales, connecting others is the strongest trait any salesperson can exhibit. If a client wants to meet another client, salesperson, vendor – facilitate it and allow yourself an exit from the situation.
Knowing that what you have to offer is so strong that even connecting a client with another vendor is safe is the ultimate sign of confidence. A large number of salespeople are truly intimidated by anything that could interfere with their client relationship. But they shouldn’t be.
When an opportunity to connect two people arises, leap at the chance to be the one who put the two together. Peers, competitors, and clients will remember you connected them with someone and made their lives easier.
Clients that you connect with others will be happier too that you put them first, and you inherit the added value of the relationship with the other person.
How to Overcome This Sales Fail
When possible, try to establish a personal connection between the two parties. If you can facilitate a meeting face-to-face do so, but then offer to step away so they can form their own bond. If an in-person meeting isn’t feasible, use email, conference calls, or social media to make a warm introduction complimenting the two and speaking to the value they both bring.
Most importantly, step away from the interaction once it’s been made. The strength of the connector is that you facilitated two parties, but if they continually feel as though they need you to mediate or set up the next meeting, you’ve not truly solved anything.
Follow up with the two after the meeting and make sure it went well, that each got what they needed out of the connection. Maintaining distance is key, but you may need to further facilitate so follow up again a few weeks later to ensure they are both seeing eye-to-eye.
Don’t hand-off the relationship too quickly. I made this mistake professionally with a business partner recently. I hadn’t ensured that the two were able to conduct the conversation. When I followed up weeks later, my business partner had soured on my contact because my contact failed to deliver in a timely fashion.
Manage the process even when the two parties have a vested interest in its success. If the connection fails, it can be a reflection on you to both of those parties.
The hardest thing for any salesperson or even a business owner is to see a potential customer consider another company’s product or service. However, when a salesperson is so exceedingly confident in their own abilities, then connecting moves to deepen the relationship.
How to Start Connecting Others
An easy way to add value to your customers is to ask them, “Is there anything else you’re struggling with?” Then listen. If there’s an opportunity to put someone in touch with someone else that might be able to help them, do it.
Look and listen for problems that could be solved by another person you know. Be aware of what these connections need and help them to resolve their issues.
Be smart and careful with the introductions you make. Will their personalities fit, do they align in their goals and choices?
Connections should find reciprocal value in the relationship. A professor of English at Harvard may have a lot to offer a friend struggling to finish their first novel, but the professor might not find much value in the relationship in return.
Making connections should be a strength not a weakness. This sales fail involved a salesperson that was not confident he could see the deal through or get the appropriate credit if it was successful. But by failing to connect me with the parties that could help, he ensured it wouldn’t happen. That has me looking for people who can help me which may be with a different provider.
Want to learn more about being a connector? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me +1 412-620-3568.