Walk into any bar or party. Grab a strategically situated stool at the far end of the action, and watch the tapestry unfold.

The usual and predictable cast of characters slowly comes into focus. There are the loners, the lonely, the packs, and the predators, all cloaked in their guise of the evening, and all in some fashion or another playing out a set strategy. Finding a spark of a ‘meaningful’ relationship by the end of the night is as remote as finding a cure for stupidity.

Then, strutting with a practiced blend of seductive swagger and poise, more confident than anyone deserves to be, and knowing they have a bit of something that everyone wants, in walks someone we all recognize as the ‘player’.

In the game of selling, it’s the salesperson that is often pegged as the ‘player’- clever and crafty in the art of persuasion and manipulation. ‘Coming on too strong’ faded from their vocabulary after their third sale, being replaced by an unspoken ‘well, you must be an idiot’ look in their eye when a polite ‘no thank you’ is offered up. Somehow, they just don’t get it.

Courtship builds trust
Selling is like dating and no one trusts a player. If you want to win a prospect’s affection and trust, you must prove that you have a genuine interest, and that requires courting of the most sincere kind. There are absolutely no short-cuts. You shouldn’t be ready to wrap a teacup around the moon if that’s what it takes, without finding out if the prospect prefers coffee, or perhaps offering just a little ‘getting acquainted’ conversation to find out what they really want, instead of what you think they need. And to take the gloves off for a moment in a fit of brutal honesty, if you have any intention of being regarded as a superb salesperson, especially by any potential ‘mark’, it’s time to shut up and listen to your prospects.

When you start pitching product, right at the get-go, it’s no different than talking about yourself on the first date. Nothing could be more counter-productive than having the prospect feel as though they are being ignored, or that their own interests are of ‘no interest’ to you. Common sense dictates that a prospective client will more than likely take an interest in what you’re selling if they detect a real connection with you, and feel good about responding to your manner and quality of attention.

No one wants to be ‘played’
To put a sharper edge on my point, it’s no different than telling people why you (or your product) are so great – instead of showing them through your actions. The old adage of ‘you can bring the horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ applies here. No matter how thirsty you may think a prospect is, they won’t touch what you are offering until they know and trust the hand extending the cup. Just because you believe in yourself (and your product), you can’t expect your prospect to just swoon at the sound of your oh-so gifted pitch. They don’t know you. And much more importantly, they know you don’t know them, nor have you yet demonstrated that you even care. They will correctly assume you say the very same things to all your dates (prospects) regardless of your contrived level of ‘interest’, simply because you are trying to score a sale. Besides, you are dealing with a far more knowledgeable and market-savvy consumer these days. Google put an end to ‘born yesterday’, and, a ‘sucker born every minute’ went the way of the Edsel.

Integrity counts
What a prospect wants is a bit of sincerity added to the mix, a blend of exceptional product knowledge and information combined with a dash of personal integrity, and dare I say passion, to spice up the sales routine into the makings of a bon-a-fide, long-term relationship. Dating (and selling) is one thing. Sensing an atmosphere of commitment is what will get a prospect to ‘buy the farm’. The best, fastest, and most effective way to build the necessary trust is to take things slow on the first date. Approach the entire process as some form of walk in the park, or even a dance, but make your moves as though it were a seductive tango, instead of a mosh-pit of personal achievement or inflated levels of expertise.

Ask your prospects questions that demonstrate your genuine interest before you launch into the hard sell. Take the time to explore your prospect’s needs. Ask questions that will move or invite your prospect to explain what he or she is looking for, or what problem is in need of attention, or what dilemma requires a solution that, as it just so happens, only you can provide. These tactics are the fundamentals of relationship-building, and the more skilled you are at reading a prospect’s ‘wish-list’, the stronger the relationship you will be able to create and nurture over the long-haul.

Set yourself apart
Show them that you are different from all the rest of the competition by asking questions that no one else has bothered to ask them before. Make them feel that their situation and concerns are unique, and that you offer a more personal brand of targeted solutions. Begin to ‘court’ them into regarding you and your product differently from the rest of the field of ‘players’. With a more visible display of character you will build a stronger and more solid relationship and seal the deal much faster in the end, but only if you take your time in the beginning. In the realm of dating, it’s about sowing the seeds of love with a patient and caring hand. And so it is with selling.

Author, Nancy Nardin is the foremost expert in sales productivity tools. As President of Smart Selling Tools, she consults with many of the top sales productivity software vendors as well as end-user organizations looking to select the right tools.  Click to get Nancy’s What & When weekly digest with invitations to complimentary webinars and informative publications.  Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools or subscribe to her Tool Talk blog.  Nancy can be reached at 916-596-3035 or by email nancy@smartsellingtools.com. To schedule a free 30 minute consultation click here.

About the author

Nancy Nardin

Nancy Nardin is a recognized thought leader on sales technologies and building a sales stack. Smart Selling Tools reviews the latest sales and marketing software across multiple categories, including Inside Sales, Sales Intelligence, Sales Acceleration, Pipeline Management & Deal Flow, and Predictive Sales Analytics. It's been named a Top Sales Blog by HubSpot, and Nancy Nardin has been named alongside Forbes’ top 30 social sales influencers in the world. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools