Are You Offending Your Direct Sales Prospects?
A recent post on a direct sales news blog caught my eye today. It was an exaggerated scenario about a direct sales consultant (DSC) approaching a young mom at a park where they had both taken their children to play. Almost as soon as they had introduced themselves, the DSC stuck a catalog in the other mom’s hand and began sharing her latest hostess incentives. That poor prospect couldn’t get out of that park fast enough!
Now, I’ll admit that there are a few (very few!) people who might could pull this off. But to the majority of us, this approach simply comes on too strong. This kind of behavior can not only offend, it can literally turn a new customer off so badly that they will never be reached by our products. Attempting a sale without becoming better acquainted makes the DSC appear gauche and insensitive. It’s better to build a relationship with a prospect first, then let them know of your business.
Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. You’re at the park with your child. Enjoying a beautiful, sunny day. A nicely dressed woman walks up to you and asks if she can sit on your bench. She smiles. You smile and invite her to sit. Immediately she pulls a catalog out of her oversized purse and thrusts it toward you. “Hi, I’m Mary. I’m a direct sales consultant for XYZ Company. I’d love to show you the latest items in our catalog.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I quickly start looking for an exit in a situation like that!
But consider, on the other hand… this same nicely dressed woman walks up to you and asks if she can sit on your bench. She smiles. You smile and invite her to sit. She says, “Hi, I’m Mary. What’s your name?” You begin to chat. She tells you about her kids. She asks about yours. You talk about where you live, hobbies, husbands, work. You spend an enjoyable few minutes getting to know each other.
Before long you look at your watch and realize it’s time to go. As you stand, Mary stands also.
“I have really enjoyed talking with you,” she says. And you believe her. She reaches into her purse and pulls out a business card. “Give me a call sometime when you’re free. Maybe we can go to lunch,” she says as she hands you her card.
You notice she’s a consultant for XYZ Company. You say to her, “Wow. I’ve been wanting to see a recent catalog. Do you have one with you?” Being the good consultant she is, she pulls one out of her oversized purse and hands it to you. “Sure,” she says. “Look it over and call me if you need anything.”
Totally different scenario. No pressure. No feeling of imposition. You’ve just met a new friend and she happens to be a sales consultant for XYZ Company. What a pleasant coincidence.
Which of these situations do you think would create a loyal customer? The second one, of course!
Yes, there are times when it’s appropriate to hand someone a catalog right after you’ve met. And you’ll have to use your own judgment as to when that may be. But be sensitive to the feelings of others and if you see them begin to back away, slow down. Those times are the exception rather than the rule. More often than not, we need to get to know our prospects – at least a little – before coming out with a sales pitch. Build friendships first. Customers will naturally follow.