You want to get married? We haven’t had a date yet.

At Selling Power, Founder and Publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner penned a brief online article about meeting buyers at the right time. He suggests an ideal scenario in which our sales hero enters a coffee shop and just happens to start up a conversation with a buyer who needs exactly what he has to sell. It got me thinking about the importance of timing in the sales process.

It is the dream sales situation, isn’t it? You meet a buyer at the exact moment that they have a thorny problem to solve. You just happen to have the ideal solution. You get along instantly; they want to hear more. There’s no haggling over price. This buyer is desperate to eradicate the pain and solve the problem. He’ll pay practically anything. You zip on over to the buyer’s office to complete an agreement that is approved by legal in minutes. Oh, and they cut you a check in advance to get the process started. A few short hours after that fateful coffee shop meeting, you walk away with a six figure deal.

Uh huh…let’s get real.

It rarely works this way in the real world. In the real world, we meet people all the time that would benefit from using our products and services. The problem is that we know it, but they don’t yet. It’s tempting to want to convince them, right now, that a problem is looming on their horizon. But timing is a tricky thing. Jump to fast, push too hard and too soon…bye, bye sales opportunity. When it comes to using social networking tools to expand their sales reach, I’m certain that this is a lesson that many sales people are destined to learn the hard way. Some, no doubt, already have.

Stay visible.

Technology provides limitless opportunities for the sales people who recognize that timing is everything in sales. When the buyer is ready to buy, these savvy social sales people want that buyer to think of them first! That’s why they remain focused on the bigger picture. Core elements of their process include building strong networks and cultivating sales opportunities by providing “value” in advance of the sale. That value can be anything from targeted information that benefits the buyer in their job, white papers about trends in their industry, relevant blog posts or connections to peers in their field.

To succeed in the social sales world, sales people (and their management!) need to accept that no one gets married without being courted first. Be patient and take the time to court your prospective buyer until they are ready to walk down the aisle. How you approach the courtship will say volumes about what happens after you both say, “I do”.

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