Previously, it was difficult to establish long-term relationships with potential clients. Before they would become loyal brand advocates, the company had to spend hundreds or thousands of advertising (mainly TV) dollars to get their product or service in front of an audience. And if it appears on TV, well, it must be good, right? A bona fide stamp of approval. But let’s be honest, not all of us packed the advertising fire power of brands such as Coca Cola and Nike.

However, the good news is everything has changed. We now have the opportunity to build brand loyalty at a fraction of the cost thanks to the digital world we now find ourselves in.

The consumption of content has evolved from the generic 30-second commercial to a series of social media ads, newsletters, blog posts and google display banners. Despite this becoming an extremely crowded workspace to operate in it does offer us the opportunity to offer customized, personal solutions for our customer’s and establish long-term relationships.

But building a long-term relationship can be a tough old business, especially if you don’t make a vital good first impression. Doesn’t this sound familiar?

That’s exactly what I thought, so let’s see if we can’t learn a thing or two from a first date to help us sell more effectively.

What can you learn from a first date to help improve your sales?

1. Look for sign to determine that you are with the right person

Do you remember your first date? I mean, your very first, first date. Try and take yourself back to that memorable day when that person you obsessed over finally said “yes”. I’m sure from the moment you sat down and got talking you started to trace signals that helped determine if that person really was for you.

Attitude, behavior, posture, looks and goals are just a few pointers that determine whether or not a long-term relationship is likely to be established, just as it is with companies and their potential customers.

When you try to sell in such a noisy, crowded, digital market you have to start recognizing those signals that determine if it’s the right market for you; unbeatable ROI, better chances of acquiring customers and signs that indicate your solutions will be accepted.

Fortunately there are many digital marketing toolsp (particularly those with solid web analytics) that can give us an idea on the level traction we’re getting. Even social networks provide the perfect medium to do market research.

Explore, analyze, scrutinize and filter the data to be sure that what you’re doing marries up with your specified target audience.

2. Learn to listen

There is nothing worse than being on a date with a “me” person. The “I’m so great…” “I did this…,I did that…” “me, me me, I, I. I.” So, so, so tedious.

You don’t want to be that person, especially in business.

If you truly want to help your customers, learn to listen. In fact, it is some very basic advice that can be extended to all facets of life!

Listening to what the online community says is a mandatory practice to start creating an effective marketing and sales strategy. You can not just talk about yourself, your brand and your promotions without first making sure that this is what your target audience really wants to hear.

3. Make a good first impression

Come on! You are not the only one who obsessed over their looks on the first date. Whether it was sneaking into your parents room to grab 5a bottle of your dad’s red Joop! or slipping on your mum’s favorite heels despite them being a size or two too big.

And even if you weren’t so confident in the looks department, I’m sure you damn well made up for it with your newly discovered charm, wit and ability to make your date laugh at the drop of a hat. Whatever it was, even then you knew that making a good first impression was key to the success of the rest of the evening.

The principle remains exactly the same for brand and customer; the first contact with your potential client should be so impressive that it’s impossible to erase either you or your product’s value from memory. Every time the prospect even dares think about their pain points, your brand is already front of mind and ready tackle to the issue at hand.

Fail to do so, and you’ll find it’s a competitor’s brand or solution edging in to take away that sales opportunity.

4. Leave a little something for the imagination

Being interesting is an age-old seduction technique between people and, to be honest, saying everything there is to know about yourself on the first date may leave things a little flat down the line.

It is always good to generate some intrigue on the first date without going overboard. Do it calmly and gradually open up to your partner about your topics of interest,  generate a little mystery, whet the appetite and you will surely have done enough to secure yourself a second date.

The same approach must be taken when seeking out potential clients. It’s important that your brand generates a level of intrigue and expectation which can be achieved through a video content marketing campaign or maybe a free trial or service.

These are just a couple of examples but there are many great ideas that can help you generate that spark, that intrigue to finally get the customer coming back to your product or service, wanting more.

5. Learn to call it a day

Sadly, and perhaps fittingly that I’ve left this one until last, sometime we have to accept that we were just not meant for each other. Your jokes are dropping like lead balloons. Their personality seems staler than a slice of 3 week-old bread. It just wasn’t meant to be.

And that’s totally OK. Not all relationship are going to, or should for that fact work out.

The same can be said for sales, too. There will be potential customers who are taking too long to convert that eventually you just get tired of calling them back and following up. The signs are there that they are perhaps just not that interested purchasing your product or service, at least not for now.

Now seeing as field sales reps time is something of a premium, we need to identify those leads in the funnel that are close, or could be considered close to finalize a deal. This is where an effective lead scoring system works wonders in identifying their chances of converting or on the contrary, if it needs a little more warming before an approach can be made.

As you can see, sales and relationships have more in common than you might have thought. Whenever you are trying to generate contact with a potential client think back to that first date and see if can’t help you with that final sell.

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