There was a show on VH1 in the late 2000s called The Pickup Artist, where a supposed pickup guru named Mystery taught nervous, timid men how to “close deals” with women.
The goal was different depending on the show — get a phone number, get the woman back to their place, etc. Ultimately, Mystery taught his protegées a replicable process for how to talk to and interact with women in a way that kept them interested.
While Mystery’s respect for women, views on emotional intelligence, and overall life goals are questionable, the man does know something about sales. There are clear similarities between “closing” in the bar scene and closing deals.
I sometimes wonder where Mystery is today. Regardless, his lessons live on. Here are five lessons he taught all salespeople about closing deals.
1. It’s a numbers game
I’m still waiting for the Tinder of appointment setting (trademark!), where a prospect or salesperson can just swipe right and set a meeting. As many of us know, you can’t be overly discriminating on Tinder, or your matches may be few and far between. The same is true for prospect meetings in sales. Just like in the pickup game, you have to practice and experience rejection to best understand how to peak and maintain interest.
2. Grow a backbone
Don’t be desperate. The more you thank someone for meeting with you, or the more you over-apologize for lateness or a slip up, the more you put the other person in the driver’s seat. Be confident in handling a sales meeting the same way you would a meeting with a friend – by responding appropriately to the situation and/or actions of the other person. In order to close deals, you’ve got to trust that you add just as much value to the conversation as the other party.
3. Make sure you use the value of your experience strategically
Everyone wants to date the person who’s dated a supermodel or celebrity. But all that really gets you is a foot in the door and, if you’re lucky, a potential date more willing to overlook your flaws. Likewise, it helps to have a “celebrity” company on your resume or in your client list, but it’s not enough to assure success. Everyone wants to demonstrate their uniqueness, and doing so often works (if its properly managed). Just be judicious – know when to stop selling yourself. Open with past experiences and references, but don’t overuse them. Look to demonstrate a level of trust that doesn’t need to be restated.
4. Be original
When picking someone up, the conversation is often “I’m from X town, I’ve worked for Y and Z company, and now I live in blah blah neighborhood.” This kind of smalltalk doesn’t get you anywhere in the dating world. The same is true with sales. The typical sales process is laden with product differentiators and benefit statements. Don’t talk about the banal details of what you’ve done. Rather, think about what you can say that will add value to each interaction. People value their time, and they appreciate an original conversation much more than a standardized, boring one.
5. A good discovery process is critical
None other than the Notorious BIG gave us a blueprint for what not to do, and then what to do with the opposite sex:
“Who he attracting with that line what’s your name, what’s your sign, soon as he buy that wine I just creep up from behind and ask you what your interests are…”
Most guys’ “openers” haven’t changed since college. Something along the lines of “Hi, where are you from? Where did you go to school? What do you do for a living?”
Please stop. A good discovery question focuses on unique details that lead to a bigger story or a particular area of opportunity. When picking someone up, after you get past the initial “hello,” focus on interests outside of typical demographics to generate more real conversation. Make sure to ask open-ended questions in particular. With sales, instead of asking your contact, “What current systems are you using?” ask, “What are the top two goals for your department around ?” This will get you much more detailed information that can be used later on in your relationship. General Rule: More than two “noncommittal nods” back-to-back indicate conversation stagnation, which means you are losing credibility.
The average salesperson today recites the same cheesy, boring schtick to each client. This makes it a lot easier for those of us with an adaptable process to come out on top. Whether you’re navigating the singles scene or trying to close deals in enterprise sales, the keys to success are similar. Be confident, have an adaptable system, listen carefully, add value, and let the rest take care of itself.
Thanks for your lessons, Mystery. Just please stop Nickelbacking.