Connections That Can Be Trusted (Issue 493)

In which we discuss the power of referrals rather than magic words to secure appointments with prospects. In our neck of the woods, Harry Potter movies appear on various cable channels almost as frequently as “storm chaser” programs featuring lunatics who chase or who are chased by tornadoes.

Having watched both genres a few times, and knowing that in both cases the endings are good and the acting is bad, I strongly prefer the Potter movies for recreational couch sitting, particularly the first three.

I love the moments when Harry or Ron or their friends are in immediate, ghastly, horrfying danger, blabbering words for a spell, not quite getting it right, until, just at the last moment, they SAY THE RIGHT WORDS … and… WHAM.. they’re saved. Strong wizardly power.

As a parent and sales coach, however, I’m NOT crazy about “wizard power” because it creeps into our thinking and undermines our human power.

For example: During one of our recent “Winning at Prospecting” training sessions, we’d just finished the discussion about “Rule #1: Referrals, Referrals, Referrals” when one of the participants (with the immediate agreement of others in the room) said,

“I just keep thinking that, if I somehow say the right words, I’ll get an appointment.”

Does that sound familiar? Say the right words and I’ll get an appointment. Say the right words and I’ll be saved. Like magic.

From the prospect side (and I speak here as a business owner who receives these calls), receiving unsolicited telephone calls from unfamiliar sales reps blabbering words they hope will secure them appointments feels a little like being awakened rudely from a deep sleep, with someone shouting, “HEY, WAKE UP! WAKE UP!”

My mind is somewhere else, I can barely make the transition from the work on which I was focused to the call I wish I hadn’t answered, and my first inclination is to listen quietly until I’m sure it’s not my child, my spouse, or the IRS, and then hang up, so I can go back to what I was doing.

The most important reason that business managers will take calls from salespeople they don’t know is… a referral or introduction from a trusted friend or associate. So we end up saying something very simple: “Pat Smith encouraged me to call you, I helped her reduce save about $3 grand last year and she thought you might….”

Not the right words, like magic spells. The right words, like connections that can be trusted.

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