How to Fit in with Your Prospects

By John Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Feb 04

Squirrel hides in its nest in a tree

This squirrel blends in with his environment due to natural camouflage.

Reading my friend Bob Poole’s book, Listen First – Sell Later, he reminded me about the value of getting to know your customers’ industries. This is important to all salespeople and marketers, not just to soft sell sales and marketing people.

The First Step Is to Decide Who Your Ideal Prospects Are

To really help yourself get established in your sales and marketing efforts, study up on your ideal customers’ market or industry.  While you may have several different ideal customer profiles, pick one that you are most interested in, one which has a sizable potential for sales. Becoming an expert in an industry takes time and effort so be smart about your choice. Remember, your ideal prospects are companies like your best customers because they are most likely to have needs like those you are solving already.

Next, Learn about Their Industry or Market

Once you choose where you want to initially focus, start reading up as much as you can about it. Naturally, the Internet has a wealth of information on almost everything imaginable. The problem is that not all of it is accurate or true so you need to read broadly. A great source of information is to get a subscription to industry publications, most of which are free to people in that industry, including vendors. Also, get involved in one of the trade associations – one to which the people you want to contact actually attend.

Your Goals for this Research

There are at least three purposes to your doing this research and getting involved in a low key way:
1.    Learn the jargon, the words and expressions used in that industry so you blend in as one of them. Don’t just parrot the words. Be sure you understand what they mean and how they are used. Being an expert means you know the language.

  • Every industry has terms unique to it. For instance, “flooring” to automobile dealerships refers to the manufacturers’ short term financing of inventory while to a housing contractor, it would mean what you lay down for people to walk on.

2.    Find out what’s important to the people you want to reach, i.e. what are the challenges they are experiencing that they want help with.

  • This will enable you to look for solutions you can deliver that people actively want.
  • It may be as simple as reframing how you approach what your product already does, or it may require adding something, like installation and training to your package or bundling someone else’s product to make a kit.

3.    Become known as someone who contributes to their community.

  •  Volunteer for a committee where you are able to offer help.
  • Unless you have a booth or table display at vendors’ night, be really low key about selling at most meetings. People want to get to know, like and trust you as a person first – that’s right, this idea predates the Internet.

o    I found when I was in credit union computer system sales that managers
who’d met me at several chapter meetings were likely to see me on a cold
call because they recognized me and my commitment to their movement.

Knowing How to Fit in Gives You a Base to Ask Intelligent Questions

If you want to fit in with your prospects, get to know their industry or market. Use their jargon properly yet sparingly. You want to blend as one of them. Read, listen, and learn what the members of this community care about. Then you will be able to offer a solution that they already know they want. Don’t forget, though, your heart-centered, soft sell sales approach means this industry information is only foundational so you fit in. You still need to ask prospective customers about their specific needs and interests. Then you’ll find sales fun, fulfilling, and mutually rewarding.

Here’s your opportunity to chime in: please comment on how fitting in with your prospects has worked for you.


About the Author

My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.