Why Being Polite Won’t Be Enough To Win Over Your Prospects

See why professionalism is about more than just your P’s and Q’s—and how LinkedIn can help you to impress your prospects.

October 18, 2016

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We all hate dealing with an irate salesperson at the shopping mall, and our blood boils when we get into shouting matches with customer service representatives. Courtesy and kindness go a long way whenever you’re dealing with people—and that applies to salespeople as much as anyone.

Sales reps have to be on their best professional behavior—they need to stay engaged, polite, and respectful. But it’s not just about politeness: in fact, being overly polite could lead a prospect to dismiss your message.

Ultimately, professionalism goes far beyond manners. Being professional means that you understand and appreciate your prospect’s needs. Thankfully, doing your homework with LinkedIn can help.

The Importance of Professionalism

In almost all interactions, your prospects will expect a certain degree of professionalism. Sure, you may know a hotshot sales rep who flies by the seat of their pants—but they’re the exception, and you’re unlikely to find success by emulating them. True professionalism means bringing the appropriate level of attention, warmth, and energy to the table. It’s your job to keep the conversation positive and show that you’re an ally.

At the same time, remember that displaying professionalism is about more than kindness. A certain level of formality is required, and a good rule of thumb is to be a bit more formal than you need to be in any given setting. In addition, never forget that your ultimate goal is to position yourself as a valuable resource capable of resolving your prospect’s business problems.

Relationships matter in sales, but at the end of the day, proving your worth is more important than becoming friends.

Know the Territory

Before you even speak to a prospect, you probably make sure to have a working understanding of their business and their pain points—especially the ones that you can alleviate. Professionalism involves a similar kind of homework. You should also know your prospect on a more individual level, including their title, interests, personal background, company culture, and other relevant details.

Why does that matter? If you don’t prepare properly, you could risk losing a deal for all the wrong reasons. Prospects pay attention to whether or not you understand where they’re coming from, and personal details are one part of that.

Prepare with Social Insights

Traditionally, gathering information about a prospect’s business, challenges, and goals has been much easier than learning about them on an individual level. Maybe that’s why so many reps overlook this critical component of a winning, professional approach. Social media has changed all of that. With LinkedIn and other platforms at your fingertips, it’s incredibly easy to research your prospects, from their role to the aspects of their industry that excite them most.

Armed with this info, you’ll enter interviews with more confidence—and your niceties won’t ring hollow, since they’ll be tailored to each prospect. You’ll be able to establish a good rapport for selling and further prove your resourcefulness, which drives wins.

Keep in mind that these principles don’t just apply to face-to-face meetings. The same concepts matter for all kinds of sales messaging, whether you’re asking a contact for a warm introduction or reaching out via an InMail message. When dealing with prospects, professionalism makes a difference. It’s not just minding your P’s and Q’s—it’s about knowing your prospect and proving your value to them throughout the sales process.

For more great tips on reaching out to prospects professionally, download our InMail Kit today.