Comfort-Level Awareness

Last week, we talked about the sort of entry level awareness that’s required before you can start selling to anyone. This week, we’ll kick it up a notch and discuss the type of awareness you’ll need to create if you want to truly make a name for yourself, become a recognized force in your market, and generate sales consistently.

In our last episode, we talked about moving from total obscurity to recognition — essentially going from “I don’t know who you are.” to “Hey, I know you!” in the mind of the prospect. That basic level of awareness is really a prerequisite. You can’t sell anything to anyone until they know you exist as an option for them.

But bare-bones recognition alone won’t make the sale.

…because there’s a big difference between knowing someone exists and being willing to spend your money with them!

So if the first step is moving from obscurity to recognition, then the second step would have to be moving from recognition to comfort. Because there’s no way I’m spending any money with you at all, unless I feel completely comfortable doing it.

What’s interesting about these steps, is that we can often move from obscurity to recognition with just one contact with a prospect. I meet you for the first time at a networking event, we exchange business cards, we have a conversation, and the next time we see each other, we can approach each other as acquaintances rather than total strangers.

We’ve moved from obscurity to recognition.

And while it’s possible for total strangers to meet, have a conversation and immediately feel completely comfortable with one another, that sort of situation is normally the exception rather than the rule.

Moving from recognition to comfort usually involves repetition of contact… intelligent repetition of contact. We need to see each other more than once. Have more than just a passing conversation, and find commonalities.

It’s at the comfort stage that I’m likely to place my first order with you. But we have to get there first…

Many salespeople think in terms of the old adage that “people do business with those they know, like and trust.” And while I have previously debunked the oversimplified version of that statement, the core of it (with a few qualifications) is essentially true.

I need to know you as a professional, like you as a valuable resource and trust you with my business. Meet those criteria and you have a shot.

So if moving from obscurity to recognition accomplishes the goal of knowing, then moving from recognition to comfort is what brings us to liking and trusting.

In our last episode we talked about the advantage of being introduced by a referral from someone the prospect already knows, and how that introduction can essentially transfer some of the trust they have with that person to us, helping to accelerate the process.

But regardless of how we’re introduced, if we want to get to comfort, it will very likely require us to engage in a series of communications with the prospect, in which each contact helps us to further build rapport, establish ourselves as the expert, and advance the relationship.

Obviously, moving from recognition to comfort requires a style and level of communication that’s very different than when we’re moving from obscurity to recognition. In short, liking and trusting doesn’t come nearly as easily as knowing, which is why this second level of awareness — what I refer to as “comfort-level awareness” — is so important.

If you want to better advance the relationship you have with your prospects and clients, ask yourself this:

1. What am I doing to create the kind of “entry-level” awareness that gets someone to know me?
2. What sort of communication systems do I have in place to create “comfort-level” awareness — the kind that gets people to feel good about our relationship and accelerate liking and trusting?
3. What level of awareness will I need next? And that’s what we’ll discuss in our next podcast.

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