Don’t Build Rapport By Sucking Up.

2 10 2009

Michigan-1Rapport Building is taught in Sales 101.  You gotta find an area of commonality and build that relationship, girl! Lame.  Every other sales person goes into meetings with the same strategy – look around the office at pictures, posters, diplomas, books, whatever, and ask questions.  OMG!  You have the best sponge collection!

 

Aren’t you original.

 

I recently stumbled upon an even better way to build a connection with a new client – competition.  No really.  I had a first-meeting with the director of a nationally recognized sports organization to pitch SnapShotU, a great new online application from my company, Consolidated Graphics.  I did my pre-call research and learned all about the guy.  I was in luck and discovered that we had TONS in common – he was from the same area of Northeast Ohio as myself and even attended a college right near mine.  I couldn’t wait to impress him into liking me.

 

The meeting started off in the standard “arms-length-hand-shake” way as we situated ourselves around the table.  Time to implement rapport building.  I had decided that the best strategy was to slyly ask questions that I already knew the answers to: “Where are you from?”  “Gasp… OHIO?!  No way.  Me too?!  What a small, small world.  I’m shocked.” The atmosphere gradually warmed as I peppered my sales pitch with “unplanned” discoveries of areas we had in common.

 

As the meeting drew to a close, I decided it was time to pull my ace out of my sleeve and really seal the deal.  You see, 99% Ohioans are fierce football fans.  We are split in our loyalty to professional teams, but unite behind the crimson and gray of the Ohio State Buckeyes.  For years the Bucks have been a source of pride and camaraderie for Ohioans worldwide.  As I wrapped up the meeting, I dropped in a casual remark about the Buckeyes with a winning smile.

His smile faded.  Uh Oh.

 

The guy was a Michigan Wolverine’s fan – the arch-nemesis of Ohio State going back 85 years.  To my great surprise, this contention turned out to warm our relationship up even more.  I returned to my office and decided to focus on this awkward moment rather than all of the pleasantries.  I found a Michigan Wolverine’s paraphanalia site and ordered him a fan towel.  I sent it to him along with a note reading

“Here is a little something for you to show your team spirit, not that it will help you in your game against State this weekend!  Try to wave it extra hard and see if magic happens.”

 

Score.  By focusing on our differences I was able to make him laugh and make myself stand out.  We now have plans to attend an Air Force Football game where the combined love for beer and the pigskin will hopefully continue to position me in his mind as the first thing he thinks of when he needs print.

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Always Wear an Undershirt … and Other Lessons Not Found in Sales Books

26 09 2009

Undershirts for $2 at Walmart. No Excuses.

So… I have been doing printing sales for roughly 7 months now.  Along the way I have learned some key lessons that I haven’t come across in any of the

“How To” and “Motivational” sales books I’ve read.  Maybe this list belongs more in the “For Dummies” books, but I’d like to share these pearls of wisdom with the world.  This blog is dedicated to a little wardrobe malfunction that happened on Thursday of this week.

  1. Always wear an undershirt with a blouse… you never know when a button is going to pop at a very inopportune moment, such as during an important client presentation.
  2. Business cards are your currency at a networking event… NEVER underestimate the amount you will need.  Stash your box in your car in case you are more popular than you anticipated.
  3. If someone starts to pull out a “before” and “after” picture of themselves in any form, run.  I don’t care if it is weight loss, botox, cosmetic surgery, or scar removal – they are in the business of selling, not buying.
  4. Never ever NEVER assume anything about the following categories: Gender, Age, Marital Status, Pregnancy, Sexual Orientation, Religion, Natural Hair Color, Political View, etc.
  5. Don’t buy a beer for a client unless you are certain they are not a member of AA.  Really.
  6. If you are sure they are good to go in the alcohol realm, be sure to understand that the “N.A.” designation on the beer bottle is not some new form of beer you’ve never heard of like “IPA”.  It means “Non-Alcoholic.”   People get really mad when they think you are bringing beer and you show up with the N.A. stuff…
  7. Don’t ride a mechanical bull in front of clients, even you are at a Rodeo and they are all chanting your name.  That is unless you enjoy having a bloody lip and walking with a limp.
  8. Iron your clothes even if you think they look swell.  The wrinkles do not add character.
  9. The creator of Dillbert is an absolute genius of insight.
  10. If you are late to a meeting because you hit a parked car, got lost, or forgot you had a meeting… don’t tell your client.  That doesn’t exactly build your credibility.

Now these are just a few gems that I have learned or observed during my short stint in outside sales… I know there are some seasoned vets out there with some awesomely embarrassing lessons.  Please share!