In any business endeavor, a win-win outcome is always the most satisfying and productive. It certainly beats the alternatives – win-lose, lose-win, or (heaven forbid!) lose-lose – in which one or both parties walks away feeling an assortment of negative emotions, possibly including disappointment, anger, resentment, and a desire to throw crockery against the wall.
What do we mean by win-win when it comes to finding new partners for our network marketing business?
For the prospector (you), a win probably means acquiring a new business partner with the following attributes: easy to work with, motivated, determined to succeed, reliable and accountable, upbeat, honest, hardworking, and so on. Of course, you would probably also want your recruit to have some free time and enough money to get started.
For the prospect well, we really don’t know what a win would be for her, do we? We could make an assumption and guess. We could assume that she just wants to make a lot of money. But what if we guess wrong? What if her heart’s desire is to help people and make a difference in the world.
The only way we can know for sure what’s going through our prospect’s head is to talk with her — ask questions, listen closely to the answers, ask more questions, and do a lot more listening.
One word of caution, though: When interviewing a prospect, it’s very tempting to listen just until she mentions some problem your product or opportunity might help solve. And then (sound of bugles) YOU’RE OFF AND RUNNING! Bending her ear about how wonderful your company is and how much she’s going to LOVE what the products will do for her.
But telling why YOU think your opportunity is the greatest thing since sliced bread is not the goal. The goal is to reach a win-win outcome, and there’s more to it than just presenting your favorite features and benefits and assuming that’s what your prospect wants, too.
If you’re truly dedicated to win-win, your goal is to reach a deep understanding of what a win would be for her and then honestly assessing whether or not your opportunity would create that.
If it’s not a good fit, let it go. Thank her for her time and move on.
On the other hand, if you believe your opportunity is a match for her, go ahead and explain to her why you think so. Be sure to connect the dots between her specific problems and how your opportunity can address them.
Then she signs up, right?
Not quite. Actually, there’s yet another critical step you both must take before reaching a win-win outcome.
Recently, I started reading a book that really gets into the whole win-win strategy, The New Conceptual Selling by Stephen E. Heiman and Diane Sanchez. (Although it was written mainly for business-to-business salespeople, most of the principles the book lays out are applicable to network marketers, too.)
It describes three stages of decision-making in the sales process.
Stage 1: The decision-maker (your prospect) comes to a better understanding of the situation she’s facing. (This is where your question-answer dialogue helps her.)
Stage 2: The decision-maker explores her possible options and solutions. (This is that other critical step I mentioned, and it’s where many network marketers falter.)
Stage 3: The decision-maker puts it all together and picks the best option for herself.
Why do I say that many MLMers falter in the second stage? The answer is that we naturally want OUR option to be the only one the prospect considers. But the person sitting before us must be free to consider ALL her choices, or her final decision will never be satisfying to her. (By the way, this is a common problem with many salespeople, not just network marketers.)
Plus, people know when they’re being pushed or manipulated. Throughout this whole conversation, you’ve been creating rapport and building trust. If you suddenly start pitching your solution as the only one, your prospect will close up again before your very eyes. She might start talking about how she needs to think a few things over – and maybe she’ll get back to you in a couple of weeks. Maybe. In other words, you just lost her.
Or if you do succeed in manipulating her into agreeing to your solution without giving her a chance to think about her other choices, she’s likely to feel buyer’s remorse down the road and secretly resent you for it forever. That’s certainly no way to begin a healthy business relationship, is it?
If you want to play a positive role in your prospect’s decision-making process and achieve your win-win goal, you must make it totally clear to her, both in your words and in your actions, that you support her right to explore all her different options.
The good news is, if you truly understand her situation and genuinely believe that your opportunity is her best solution, and if you have effectively communicated why you think that way, chances are pretty good that your prospect will end up agreeing with you. And then you will get to enjoy the most treasured of all outcomes.
Your new business relationship will be launched in an atmosphere of mutual respect and commitment, with the positive expectation that it will continue indefinitely. You and your prospect will each get what you want, and you’ll both feel terrific about your decisions.