Friday, September 11, 2009

A “Friendly” Sales Pitch

A “Friendly” Sales Pitch

Not Again!

The last thing a person wants to hear at a networking event, especially if they haven’t asked for it, is your sales pitch. We’ve all been to a BBCC Chamber Coffee or After Hours Event. Too often people are pushing business cards and their “business” rather than themselves and their interests. Sure, these events are excellent resources for promoting your business but they also provide a great opportunity to make some friends. And, chances are, if you can make a friend the likelihood of making a sale down the line increases exponentially - LinkedIn has nothing on FriendIn!

A Friendly Focus

So, how do you make a friend in 15 minutes? Well, first and foremost, don’t talk about work. We all work long hours and, depending on the event, we’ve either had a long day OR are about to! I try to steer the conversation into personal interests as fast as possible. It could be sports, hobbies, kids, etc. Find a common bond and run with it. One, it’s more fun and two, the more I know about a person’s life outside work, the easier it will be to connect through follow-up later on. The last email I wrote was about Birmingham Bloomfield Lifestyle Ad Rates and the Detroit Lions Draft Strategy. Knowing that person was a huge Lions fan (there’s only a few left) gave me something to play with and a message that could be digested with a sense of familiarity.

Quality, Not Quantity

If I’m at an event and networking successfully I’ve probably only collected 3-4 business cards. If I have 20 I probably haven’t done anything more than add a few pages to my sales binder and bought myself a “Remember Me?” phone call. There’s more promise leaving a contact with a pat on the back saying “I’ll give you a call in a couple days to set up a tee-time”. Once again, you’ve built a connection involving a shared interest and set the table for a second encounter, where “work speak” might fall into a variety of talking points. In the end, you’ll probably finish your round with a new client and a couple more leads….hole in one!

Keep it Real

I’ve always believed that it’s better to be seen as a real person, not a sales person. There’s a reason why businesses put NO SOLICITING on their doors. Everyone’s in a rush to come in and sell them something. My advice? Visit as a customer first. No sales gimmicks, no cards. Ask questions, learn names and, if applicable, buy something. You’re not the only one trying to make a buck! The second time around I may give my card or ask them if I can send them some information. In short, there are so many people fighting for attention that if you can put off your “pitch” for a day and focus on building a connection, you’ll actually stand out.

Rome wasn’t built in a day…

Jason Ribits
VP Sales and Marketing
Keaton Publications Group LLC