I ask a lot of questions. Early experiences in journalism school and college sports information are the likely reasons. I have found asking questions can be equally gratifying as answering them. When it comes to selling corporate partnerships at USA Swimming, you will find me asking a lot questions.
I have the capability to create a wall of sound like any other salesperson, but results come through listening. There is no better feeling than getting a sponsor strategy right the first time by fully understanding their objectives, challenges, opportunities and passions.
One Shot on Goal … in most sponsor proposals you get one shot before you lose their attention. The closer you are to the target the higher the odds of a second meeting.
It’s a Relationship Business … yes, you have product to sell, but it’s a relationship business so you better know them as a person and what drives their business.
It’s Not About You … They have plenty of options to invest their money. Show them it’s a good decision by knowing their objectives.
Show You Are Listening … One of my favorite phrases is “So what I heard you say is …” This shows that you were listening, but more importantly that you understood their point.
Even with all the questions and listening, here is the key…
Know When to Lead … Listening produces great insights, but there comes a time in every sales process to take the ball and lead. This could be 20 minutes, 2 hours or 2 days into a conversation. That is a judgment call where you need to be right. When the time comes, be ready to make an educated, well-thought out and targeted proposal.