How Prospecting is Like Online Dating: 5 Mistakes Online Daters Can Teach Salespeople
Love it or hate it, the fact is that research shows a massive 15% of American adults have tried their hand at online dating. But that doesn’t mean everyone in that group is doing it well. Some of the mistakes they make are cringe-worthy if not downright horror stories.
On the plus side, they offer us some valuable lessons – and not just about dating. We’re convinced that prospecting is a lot like online dating, the mistakes online daters make provide great illustrations to help get more leads, sales, or fill open requisitions.
Mistake #1: The Generic Introduction Message
The online dating world is no stranger to cliché pick-up lines, eager proposals, and the good old copy-and-paste trick when it comes to introductions.
The parallels to prospecting are uncanny. Scripted sales pitches, default LinkedIn invitations, and spammy email campaigns are just the start. Sure, these are fast and easy ways to reach out to a wide group of people, but they’re far from effective. Getting a response to an introduction like that is almost impossible.
Thus, personalized, custom messages using account-based tactics are vital. Know who you’re speaking to and take the time to learn about their pain points and goals. Tailor your introductory message – whether it’s via phone, email, or social networking – to your niche audience (but keep it simple and concise; no one wants to read 4 long paragraphs of text from someone they don’t know).
Of course, some online dating sites don’t even require an introductory message. Simply swipe to the right and let someone know you’re interested. Thankfully, it’s not a trend that can easily be implemented in the B2B sales world (we hope).
Learn more about reaching out with cold-calls from the Cold Calls Warm Leads: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Cold Calls Into Leads eBook.
Mistake #2: Playing a Numbers Game
Remember those notorious teenage boys in high school whose criteria for a date was merely a girl who’s breathing? They cast their nets wide and chased down every girl that accidentally glanced their way. Do you recall if they actually succeeded in getting a girlfriend? Probably not. But for some reason, that lesson didn’t resonate for many online daters, who send messages to hundreds of profiles every day with little response.
In the same way, we’ve known salespeople, marketers, and recruiters who believe that if you reach out to enough people, you’re guaranteed to eventually get a response. And while that might hold a slim chance of small success, playing the numbers game isn’t exactly the most effective or efficient way to gather qualified leads. Plus, it’s likely you’ll develop a reputation as a spammer from that kind of practice.
Narrowing down your target audience allows you to build a more accurate profile of their pain points, goals, and commonalities. It’s all about quality, not quantity – a simple lesson that’s apparently quite easy to forget in the sales world. That’s why accurate intelligence on your prospects, for business or *ahem* pleasure, is key – it gives you insight into who’s currently the best match, how to actually get ahold of them, and some common interests as a starting point to the relationship.
Mistake #3: Not Branching Out
And now to balance out the Goldilocks ‘tale of too much’.
For online dating, this is like saying to yourself, “Hmmm…10 new interesting singles joined today that matched my profile. Nah, I’m just gonna bank on these two hot commodities taking me up on my dinner invitation(s).” That’s just silly, and the odds are probably not in your favor.
So, in sales, not having enough people to prospect to is pretty debilitating. I mean, no one wants to actually run around screaming “I NEED MORE LEADS!” That’s a bad day at the office for everyone. Sure, there’s one or two prospects you might deem as a perfect fit for whatever you sell, but to focus solely on them can you put you in a bad situation at the end of month. Take a serious look at your target audience and cast your net a little wider – just don’t go crazy
A great place to find new contacts is an organizational chart. It provides a hierarchical view into roles, responsibilities, and reporting structure. It’s kind of like checking out hottie Jessie’s connections on matchyheart.lov, which lets you “peek” their cousin Dakota (the one with the flowing brown hair), who has just finished binge-watching Stranger Things! And besides, Jessie doesn’t even like that show…which does seem like a red flag.
Mistake #4: Making It All About You
You’ve met people who can’t stop talking about themselves (hopefully you haven’t dated any of them). That narcissistic attitude isn’t doing anyone any favors. Yet, salespeople make this mistake all the time. Even if your product or service is an award-winning incredible miracle cure, the simple truth is that people are more interested in themselves than they are in you.
So, to attract a qualified sales lead (or quality date) learn to listen and engage them in conversation. Understand their story – their challenges and goals. Ask prospects questions about these struggles to show genuine care and desire to solve problems while you build a valuable relationship.
Mistake #5: Forgetting to Follow Up
The first point of contact rarely results in a sale (or, indeed, a marriage proposal). The work to build a relationship, both in prospecting and romance, will take some time and effort. This is where lead nurturing and follow-up comes in.
Make a point to listen, share, and ask questions in order to court relationships through the funnel towards the signing ceremony. Be honest about intentions and take some time to assess whether this will be a mutually beneficial relationship. Be aware of other decision makers and influencers (in the dating world, this would likely be family and friends).
Not every relationship turns into a marriage, just as not every qualified lead turns into a sale or placement. Recognize when it’s time to move on.
Did you know 5% of Americans met their spouse or long-term romantic partner via online dating sites? They’re the ones who learned from these mistakes and built something great. We’re firm believers that prospecting is just like online dating. Find your target audience, gather quality datasets of leads, and steadily build long-term relationships that ultimately boost your bottom line.