Networking Tips: Don't Sell To The Room
Ask for help instead ...
Posted by Jacky Sherman on 15/02/2023 @ 8:00AM
When you first went out networking did someone tell you, or did you read some networking tips saying that you shouldn't sell to the room; that it was about developing relationships instead?
Hi, I know I just met you but do you want to buy my stuff? Hmmm, didn't the networking tips you read tell you not to sell to the room?
Now there are a few people who have either never been told this or chose to ignore it and turn up pitching to the audience. The worst ones pin you to the wall with a relentless sales pitch.
I well remember listening to one financial advisor trying to sell a pension plan to another financial advisor over breakfast. This type of experience can put the recipients off networking for good.
"Fortunately it is pretty rare!"
However, most people are not even aware that what they are doing is selling. After all, most network meetings you're invited to do a short, usually 45 to 60-second, presentation of your business and when you're circulating beforehand everyone asks what do you do?
Sounds like an invitation to present your products or services doesn't it? Isn't that a kind of selling? Well, it depends on how you do it.
For this blog post I want to concentrate on the one sentence that turns most people's 60-second presentation into a sales pitch. I'm going to be using a web designer as an example.
At the end of your speech, when you do your call to action, what do you want people to do as a result of listening to you? Most people end with something along the lines of "so if you need a website that will do x, talk to me". That's a soft sales pitch, but it's still a sales pitch none the less
It also has another effect. The person listening answers the question in their head with another question. "Do I need a website that will do x for my business?" The answer they usually give themselves is "no" and then they move on.
A simple shift in this sentence gets a different response. There are two versions:
"Who do you know who runs a shop and is complaining about the service they get from their website designer?"
Or better still:
"I can use your help with introductions to shop owners who are complaining about the service they get from their website designer."
Now you're not trying to sell to the people in the room, you're asking for an introduction to someone with a need for your services. In the second version, you're actually appealing to them for help.
People are very open to appeals for help. Think about it ... if someone says to you, "Can You help me?" How do you respond? Do you just walk away or do you try to help?
It gets them asking different questions in their head. Now your listener asks, "Do I know any shop owners?" If the answer is "yes" then they will aks the second question, "Do they have a problem with their website? Well yes, Fred does, his site is awful" or more likely "I don't know, but I could ask next time I see them".
It will also get some people thinking, "I don't know any shopkeepers with bad websites, but I do know XXX who is looking to get his first website sorted out".
And then again it might get someone in the room thinking "Oh might be worth talking to him as I am planning to update my site". In other words, they identify themselves and buy from you rather than you selling to them.
Lastly, it might get someone to think "XXX works a lot with shops he might be a useful person for this chap to meet. I could introduce them."
Now if you're brand new to a networking group, whatever you say is unlikely to evoke an instant referral, it is more likely to get relevant people to come up and talk to you to get to know you first.
Once you've established your credibility in the group it will help people to spot opportunities for you and get you those all-important introductions which is why you came networking in the first place, isn't it?
Until next time ...
Would you like to know more?
If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more networking tips, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.
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