It happened again just last week. “Pop, pop!” A distributor called me to say she was working with two very promising prospects, but after the prospects spoke with a few friends, both prospects decided not to join her company. “Why does this always happen?” she asked. “We were moving forward. I was having productive conversations with both of my prospects. Each was qualified and seemed interested. However, after a few days, one called me to say, “…all of her friends thought my product was too expensive.” The other said, “…none of her friends were interested.”
“Hmmm …” I answered. “I’m guessing you may have a trial balloon problem.” Let me explain.
When trying to rationalize some decisions, many people begin to look for “opinions” from their social group. It’s just human nature. Psychologists sometime’s call this, “seeking social proof.” It’s a seemingly easy way to take a decision-making shortcut, but not usually very productive. Prospects start tossing up “opinion trial balloons” to their friends and simply learn that…
(1) Most of their friends DO have an opinion …even if they have no real knowledge or experience on the subject.
(2) Many of their friends LOVE popping balloons. Why not? It’s easy, fun and makes lots of useless noise.
As you can guess, one of the biggest problems with looking for social proof, is seeking it in all the wrong places. For example: Ask a friend (who isn’t very sociaable and who doesn’t like to dance) if THEY think you should take dance lessons.
Their answer: “What for?”
Ask a friend who has never been an entrepreneur (or expressed any interest in being one) if you should branch out and start your own business.
What’s their answer? “Why would you do that? Are you crazy? Did you know 80% of all new businesses fail?” Get a good job!
Here are three ideas that can help you with your prospects, and help PRE EMPT negative comments or opinions solicited from unwitting, unknowledgeable (and biased) friends.
1. Once you’ve qualified, invited and presented your opportunity to your prospect, show or read them a copy of this post. As a networking professional, it never hurts to alert your prospects to the potential dangers of willy-nilly opinion gathering.
2. Tell your prospect if they’d like to gather a few opinions from friends, that’s great, but you’d like to tag along. That way YOU can help share the correct information, offer a professional presentation and answer their friend’s questions, concerns or objections. An easy way to do this with “long-distance friends” is by holding a 3-way conference call or Skype meeting.
3. Suggest to your prospect that if they’re going to solicit VALID opinions about their new business project, then they should seek out positive friends or colleagues who have real experience starting businesses and has perhaps taken a few risks themselves. That’s someone who is worth speaking with.
Remind them once again that you’d love to meet any of their their upbeat, positive friends …and be part of the “what’s your opinion?” conversation. Your prospect will likely learn a lot and who knows, you may just have helped them begin building their team!