As a special Valentines Day version of this blog, let’s dedicate a post to the pursuit of a different kind of sale – let’s examine a sales process-oriented guide to the world of dating. If you step back far enough to get a macro-level perspective, it is simply amazing how much the dating “process” matches the sales process articulated in my book, Mastering Your Sales Process.
Now before you start imagining slick lines delivered from a used car salesman in a singles bar, hear me out – it is not like that at all. I talked a bit about this already in a blog post about the scarcity mentality, let me drill down even further into the connections with the sales process here.
The core concept in the scarcity mentality post was the idea that if you don’t trust your ability to get new meetings, you will devote (far) too much importance to the meetings you do get. This counts in dating as well as in sales.
If you believe that finding prospects and clients is near impossible, you will do whatever it takes – probably more than you should – to keep the prospects and clients you do have – whether it is good business for you or not.
Similarly, if you never think you’ll meet another member of the opposite sex, you will cling to the partner you have, whether or not the relationship warrants the commitment you give it.
Keeping these things in mind, applying my sales process to the dating process can help avoid this dilemma. It looks something like this:
Let’s use me as a (hypothetical?) example. I am an American living in Hungary, and I still don’t speak the language well, so a lot of typical date-hunting activities would be much more inefficient lead sources for dating partners than might have been the case if I did speak the language. Luckily, the internet fixes that. Like most places, there are plenty of dating web sites and dating services here, and specifying a preference for English speakers ensures that no-one enters the consideration set without the ability for basic communication. The bar and the grocery store just don’t offer that for my situation, but like in traditional selling, the point is to examine your own circumstances and find a solution that makes sense given those circumstances.
In the book, prospecting is the part where you ask for a meeting. On an internet site, everyone who you might want to meet is there for more-or-less the same reason – to meet someone – so writing someone and expressing an interest in getting to know them better is pretty natural. To keep things both real and efficient, it probably makes sense to get out of the computer and into an in-person meeting soon – like for a coffee – so that the process can move on to…..
When I last used this approach – and yes, I have used it – the first two steps – as described above – were pretty efficient, and over the course of a few months I had gone on a lot of dates! My “qualification philosophy” in dating is that I always believed that it was impossible to get to “yes” on a first date, even a second, but you could get to “no” or “maybe” pretty quick. Once you realized that it is “no”, you’re pretty much done. Once you decide on “maybe”, you go on another date to see if you can get to “yes”.
Now this is a pretty unromantic term, but follow me here – the gist still works. I found that if after a few dates you were still wanting to see each other, you kind of fall into a place of wanting to get to know each other more deeply. In a sense, this is a form of needs analysis. Conversations get a bit deeper, personalities are opened up a bit more, a higher level of intimacy is reached, and there is a kind of mutual needs analysis that occurs to answer the question – who is this person, and do I want to get serious with them?
Now in romance, this means asking for marriage, but we’re not there yet (in sales terminology, that would be the “close” of the dating phase). In the dating schema from the sales perspective, proposal is analogous to deciding to be serious, exclusive, committed, etc. Sometimes it is explicit, sometimes not. It usually comes after some talk about past relationships and expectations for new ones, meeting friends and/or family, time spent together without specific plans – just wanting to be together, etc. It means that both people have in a sense put an offer on the table about being serious together, and unlike the sales analogy, if you get this far, then there is a tacit acceptance of the “proposal” at this stage. We stray a bit from the classic sales process here, but hey – it’s love after all! We should allow some latitude!
OBJECTIONS AND NEGOTIATIONS
As a couple lives together in a serious relationship, issues arise. To keep this concise, the extent to which the couple can confront these issues in a loving and healthy way together will go a long way in determining if a bigger commitment is warranted and welcomed.
In our dating schema, a close is a commitment of exclusivity – then we’re done dating, and into a whole bunch of other processes that are beyond the scope of this blog.
In my own experiences following this process, I had the chance to go on a lot of dates with a lot of women. A few times I edged into “needs analysis” before deciding that the “solution” was not “mutually beneficial”. After more dates than I’d prefer to mention, I met a terrific woman that I have been with for quite some time now, and with whom I have great hopes for the future. We met through a friend (referral), and the rest is history….
Had I worried about my ability to meet new people, it would have been tempting to hang onto some of the other women I dated, but they weren’t right for me, and I knew it. Because I knew that I could set up more “meetings”, I refused to settle for less than I wanted.
Whether you are dating or selling (or both), you should set your standards high. Make sure that you know you have options, and that what you settle for will be worth keeping.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hi, I’m David Masover. With nearly three decades of B2B sales experience, I work as a private practice Sales Force Development Consultant. I help company leaders understand the root causes of sales issues that keep revenue from growing as fast as it could, and to fix those problems through work with reps, managers, systems, processes, strategies, and tools. You can learn more about me and my work and/or get in touch with me here at my web site www.davidmasover.com/contact/ or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/masover/