This is #14 in a series of what was originally going to be my 15 top sales tactics – I’ve added two more since then, so we have three more to go after this one. 

In my previous blog post on this topic- I shared how BUMPING can be one of the best ways to become a decision maker’s preferred vendor – what I call the Emotional Favorite … or Emotional Favourite if you are Canadian or British. 

In this post, we will cover what I believe is, by far, the best way to become a decision maker’s preferred vendor. 

Have you ever felt that a competitor had an unfair advantage because they were provided information you did not have?? 

That’s because that competitor had better and often more relationships than you did, and these relationships created a sense of intimacy between the prospect and your competitor.  

Borrowing from Charlie Green’s work on trust temperaments below, that’s because your competitor had more intimacy with the decision-maker.  

The value of this intimacy is that decision-makers often say things they don’t share with others and this additional information is often the difference in winning or losing a sale.  

The Power of Propinquity 

My perspective is that a large part of this intimacy is based on what is called propinquity. 

“Propinquity is the physical or psychological proximity between people.” 

In other words, it’s about having things in common with the other person. 

There are four levels of having things in common. Here they are from weakest to strongest: 

  • Experiences. What have you done in the past that you might have in?common?? Examples are did you attend the same school, work for the same company, attend the same events.???? 
  • Interests. What do you like to watch or do? Do you like sailing, camping, volunteering as a Cub Scout leader, or making ice and driving the Zamboni for the outdoor rinks in your neighbourhood??One really simple way to get to this information is to ask people what they did on the weekend.?Once you have common interests, you can move to the next level.? 
  • Values. Once you’ve identified common interests, you can talk about your values. For example, I value family, creativity, and persistence. Opening up about your values and getting your prospect to share theirs will deepen the emotional bond between you and reduce the likelihood of your ideas being shared with the competition.? 
  • Aspirations. Once you have established common interests and values, it’s time to move to the highest level: shared aspirations. When you expose what you really want to accomplish in life, a decision-maker is much more likely to share his or her aspirations as well. This accomplishes two things: 1) you’ve deepened the bond between you to the highest level, and 2) you know a prospect’s personal motivation for doing something and how you can help? 

Think of it this way: aspirations are what you really want to accomplish in life, values are the things you are not willing to give up to make that happen, and interests are things you do along the way. 

As much as I love helping salespeople make quota and helping sales managers get promoted faster, my aspiration is to help as many youth as possible discover entrepreneurship as a viable career path. When I find someone else who has the same aspirations we share all kinds of information and resources. 

As a successful female entrepreneur once said to me once – “I wish salespeople would hold my hand for a while before you try to take me to bed.” 

What she meant by that was let’s get to know each other a little before we get down to business. 

One way to develop propinquity is to share personal information your own interests, values, and aspirations. 

The second way to develop propinquity with those you are selling to or want to sell to get them to share a little about themselves. 

To speed up the process, don’t’ just sit around waiting to learn something about a decision-maker; you often have to make the first move, and then see if there is something you have in common that you can build on. 

One of my best propinquity stories is when I went from selling $60,000 in an account to over $3,000,000 because I learned many of the design engineers at an account I had just took over loved to mountain bike and had always wanted to spend a weekend mountain biking in Whistler, B.C. 

As it turned out I lived in North Vancouver, mountain biked typically three times a week, and knew some of the best mountain biking trails in and around Whistler. 

Shortly after I arranged a weekend long mountain biking trip in Whistler, that 19 design engineers made the 4-hour trek to take in, they started to share of all kinds of things that allowed me to better understand how displace my competition. 

I like to maximize propinquity by sharing information about myself on social media. 

For example: 

My Twitter account shows how I’m dad 

My Facebook account shows how I’m a dog lover 

My LinkedIn account shares my interests, values, aspirations and my volunteer activities – Scouts and driving the Zamboni at my neighbourhood’s outdoor hockey rink. 

This approach was so effective that in 2014 I was chosen as #15 on the Forbes list of the most social sales people on the planet. 

A side benefit of being social about who I am also means that when people search Google for Craig Elias my social media accounts show up first and the murder in Pittsburg, with the same name, appears on page 5 instead of page 1. 

Here is a link to learn more about Charlie Greens’ work on Trust Temperaments and here is a link to learn more about the Johari Window

In my next blog post I’ll share the #1 response you should use when some says to you something like:

“It’s on my list of things to look at. Can you call me back in six months? “