Connecting with a Potential Customer is like Parenting a Teenager

That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works. Always start by listening.

That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works. Always start by listening.

Let me first start by saying, I'm in no way inferring your potential customer should be talked down to or is in any way "like a child". What I mean is that in this day and age, where most consumers (even B2B) have become sales-phobic (rightly so, in many ways) you need to...

Approach them with one goal in mind... gaining trust.

I am a parent of three girls and am a male. Which inherently means I understand only about 8.4% of their emotions. But as my oldest has made her way through the teenage years, I had to learn a totally different style of communication. The old method of "because I said so", no longer worked. In fact, it never worked. 

So I adapted. From a place of parental love...

I learned first to understand. Then to inspire. Then to Follow up.

And all of this, I realized, can be applied in courting a new customer. In both situations, the desire is the same. To inspire them to act a certain way. Notice I did not say "convince".

Convincing is an act of desperation.

So, in a nutshell, here are the methods and tactics you can use on a potential customer. And also maybe your teenager, but there's probably parenting blogs that are better suited for that. 

1) Ask a question, then listen... really listen - When you ask a question such as "What problems are you trying to solve?" or "Where do you feel things aren't working well?", they will talk. And the key is to really listen - maybe not even taking notes. Often times [unknowingly] they will tell you everything you need to know to guide them in the right direction.

2) Truly understand their Point of View (i.e. clarify) - It's an old line that every psychologist uses... "So what I'm hearing is..." This will help to boil down the message and prove to them you are really listening. This builds trust. 

3) Always appear Neutral, even to the point of contradicting your own goal - If you immediately discredit the path that they've chosen to walk, it ends up being demeaning. If your customer says "we tried Company X but just aren't getting the results we wanted". Respond with, "Well, I understand why you chose them, Company X is a great organization with some strong points, but I think we can better cater to the issues you mentioned". It appeals to them unconsciously because they hear "You made a smart decision". You tell them they were smart, they feel smart and you have earned their trust even more. 

4) Present your options - This is about closing the deal after all. But don't give a prepackaged, scripted pitch. Instead, circle back to the points you learned in #1 & #2. "You mentioned ______ was an issue for you. I think we can really address that by doing _______." Again, you're reinforcing that you've listened. And that you have answers to the specific problems they outlined. 

Presenting them with a packaged pitch, 70% of which is irrelevant to the problems they've voiced, means they only feel like you're 30% relevant to them.

5) Ask them how they feel about what you've told them - This is the granddaddy of all sales & parenting techniques - make them feel like they've freely made the decision - that you haven't coerced them to do anything. 

6) If it you can't close the deal in this meeting. Wait. - I know it's hard. But wait. Then follow up after a few days. Ask how the pain points are progressing. This will unconsciously remind them of the solutions you offered. 

In the end, it's all about trust. They want to feel that you have listened to them, understand their issues, aren't there to force "a solution" down their throat, but rather just leave it on the table for their taking, should they choose to. If the solution you've offered, in an earnest and honest way, truly will solve their problems. They will eagerly get on board.

P.S. But back to parenting a teenager. No matter how good your advice, at some point they will scream at you that you're "ruining their life"... so, yeah. I have nothing to help you with that. Sorry. Good luck. That's why God made wine.