In an ever-changing business landscape, new digital services for managing sales seem to pop out of the ground like weeds in a summer garden. However, few dispute the importance of having strong, person-supported sales teams to drive profits upwards. Indeed, there is no denying the importance of a fluid and efficient human element in your sales structure driven by the persuasive and persistent charm of excellent salespeople.
That said, I have to ask myself: How are the sellers of tomorrow honing their craft? What tools are out there for entry-level salespeople to grow their skills in organization, pitching and, ultimately, "closing the deal?" In seeking answers to these questions, I found an unlikely mentor in one of the world's fastest-growing dating applications: Tinder.
Unless you've been hiding under a bridge, you've probably heard about the world's newest dating craze. Tinder allows you to create a profile, set preferences for whom you'd like to match, and then (quite brilliantly) judge nearby prospects swiftly and with lots of prejudice, never having to explain your decision.
This experience resembles typical consumer behavior and the oftentimes harsh reality of what salespeople encounter each day
So how has using Tinder helped me a recent graduate with little selling experience, master the craft of swift persuasion and silent coercion? Below are a few tips I learned that could help a new salesperson along the way.
1. People Are Judgmental.
The first and perhaps most important tool in any salesperson's arsenal is their introduction. The weak-stomached of you may not like to hear this, but people are judgmental. It's all about the first few seconds of interaction; on Tinder, if someone so much as dislikes the smile in your profile photo, then you're on a one-way train to Singletown. The same can be said of sales; Capturing a prospective customer's attention is key to keeping them interested in what you're offering. Keep your introductions shiny and clear, not tired and over-filtered. (We've all used Instagram to shed the occasional wrinkle). You'll get more of a response if your customer can get a sense of you straight off the bat.
2. Know Your Target Market.
The second lesson relates to knowing your target market. The beauty of Tinder's rose truly comes from the piercing truthfulness of its thorn. Not everyone will like you. Use that; take comfort in it. The best salespeople are hunters -- changing their pitching style where necessary to ensure the snaring of their prey. Knowing that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work for all sales opportunities is the best way to learn how to try new things, to be become adaptable. Tinder is the socio-visual representation of this reality; we are allowed to choose who we like and who we don't. Learn to master your approach, and you will become the 'Baddest Pitch of All.' And never fear; for every handful of rejection you face as a seller, there will always be one or two who "swipe right." Learn who these people are (they are so often very similar), and use them to replenish your pipeline.
3. Manage Your Pipeline.
The third lesson to be gleaned from using Tinder is managing your pipeline. The key to good salesmanship is being able to manage and track your prospective client pipeline. The phrase "time management" is thrown about often, reminding us of one fundamental truth: "Time kills all deals." Though you may cringe when you hear these words, you'll be kicking yourself when Jill from Cubicle three hits target because she color-coded her pipe according to time, date, call length, blood-type, first-born's middle name, etc.
Tinder allows you to see your pipeline of "matches" based upon the date you matched up. Give it a day, sure, maybe two if you have to. You may still be able to initiate conversation and eventually get a coffee date out of it if you're lucky. Any longer than that, my friend, and you'll likely be relegated to the bottom of the pile. In today's market, no one waits because no one has to wait. If you don't manage your pipeline religiously, prospects will be forgotten and you'll lose potential buyers. Diligently manage your sales pipeline with an eye to advancing warm leads, and you'll have a much greater chance at success.
4. Close the Deal.
The final lesson learned from using Tinder involves "closing the deal." A key component of time and pipeline management is being able to prioritize. Once you know whom you're targeting, don't loiter. The purchasers of today want to know what you want, and what's in it for them. Quickly.
The ability to pitch your value proposition swiftly, answer any questions on it, and imply that you have little time to speak yourself--that's what makes the most effective salespeople. At the end of the day, we all respond well to a little bit of pressure. For example, if prospects say they can't talk for long, you're going to value their time more. Such is the torturous reality of the human condition (and the very profitable one for the smart seller).
The Bottom Line: Think Outside the Box
My advice to any new salesperson is to give Tinder a shot, experience firsthand how the practical sales process works in a social context, and most importantly don't be afraid to get creative. Vary your pitching style, take the prospect's temperature and prescribe your selling style accordingly. Be smart, think outside the box, and don't take it personally if you get swiped left.