Why Sales is a Lot Like Dating

I had the stray thought the other day that sales is a lot like dating. Although it seemed like just a funny one-liner if I ever go into stand-up comedy, the more I think about it, the more it actually makes sense. Consider the following:

They both often have totally awkward beginnings.
You’re nervous, they’re nervous, everyone’s nervous. That’s typical in early dating situations and it happens a lot in sales, too – from call anxiety to those first few moments of trying to figure out the buyer’s personality – the latter of which also happens in dating, too.The ones who don’t have much nervousness and are smooth in their interactions in both sales and dating might be naturally talented or extroverted or they might be like most skilled people – they’ve learned how to talk others and engage in conversation through practice and hard work.

Everyone involved is trying to figure out if needs, desires, goals, and values are a match.
Although our Western mythos of finding life partners lionizes the love at first sight, the daily reality is far more practical. We date to find out if the other person’s needs, desires, goals, and values are a good match for our own corresponding traits – thereby, in theory at least – making them suitable for a long-term, committed relationship.So it is in sales, where we seek to determine if our offerings match the needs, desires, goals, and values for our prospects and clients. And though sales reps don’t often consider the inverse, they should. A client whose values don’t align with yours is a relationship that’s not likely to last long (which is also true in dating, incidentally).

Online is gaining primacy.
Once attached to a considerable amount of stigma, online dating now has widespread acceptance. In fact, a third of all new marriages began with an online relationship. It’s become a billion-dollar industry, with over 7,500 dating sites worldwide.And of course, we all know the behemoth that is online sales. Also, as we’ve noted before, most organizations are starting to shift to greater use of inside sales or hybrid sales reps.

Yet, in both arenas, face-to-face and the three-dimensional world still matter in terms of contact, meeting up, and eventually consummating/executing the agreement.

Rejection is common.
In both sales and dating, you’re going to hear “No”, “Sorry, I’m not interested”, “I already have someone”, and “You’re a really great friend”. You’re going to hear it a lot. So much so that you might end up sprawled out on the hood of your car, drinking beer with your best friend, and watching airplanes fly overhead.But you just have to keep going. While the belief that every additional attempt you make increases your chances of hearing a yes is the gamblers’ fallacy (because every event – such as asking for a date or to book a presentation meeting – is its own independent instance), the more effort you put forth, the more opportunities to get a yes you’ll have.

We can pursue the wrong targets – AKA the Daisy Fay Buchanan Effect
When we’re new to the field – whether sales or dating – people have a tendency to go after the wrong targets, lured on by the physical attractiveness (dating) or the money (sales). I dub this the Daisy Fay Buchanan Effect because of The Great Gatsby character who, in addition to being beautiful, had a voice full of money – in other words, embodying both.As a counter, sales professionals and questing daters need to keep in mind what they’re really looking for – healthy, mutually beneficial relationships that make sense for both parties. Of course, when your knowledge and awareness is limited due to your newness, mistakes can and will happen. It’s how we learn who we are and what we want.

No matter what problems you have in sales or dating, there’s reams upon reams of advice out there for how to solve your dilemma! In fact, we could probably take all the dating and sales advice out there and make a whole new solar system from its mass.Some of those suggestions will be helpful and solve your problem. Some of it is useful but won’t solve your problem. And there’s a whole lot of it that will be neither useful nor immediately applicable. Except for us, of course. We’re always useful and applicable! (In sales training, that is. We offer no warranty for any dating wisdom any of us might have).

Little wonder that sales and dating have so much in common – they’re both built on relationships and communication, with a defined end goal of harmonious and complementary partnership that enriches both parties. It also takes time and care to build up to those relationships – an important reminder in an ever faster-paced global society.