Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Have you ever been asked to have coffee and catch up, only to realize it was a sales pitch?
Yup, it just happened to me.
Recently, a former co-worker from years ago contacted me via LinkedIn and mentioned she had been following me on social media for quite some time. She complimented me, said it looked like I was doing well and extended an invitation for coffee to catch up. I welcomed the offer, as I always love connecting with old friends, new acquaintances and others in general.
As we warmly greeted each other in the coffee shop parking lot, I was excited to catch up and see what had been going on in her life over the last 10 years. I’ve had quite a bit of personal change since we last saw each other, and thought she’d be anxious to hear about my life and experiences over the years as well.
I was wrong.
Getting Hit With the Hard Sell
We ordered our coffee and took a seat among the other business men and women all doing the same - catching up with clients, former co-workers, potential business partners. The moment her and I sat down, I realized why we were here, and it wasn’t to catch up. As I took my first sip of coffee, she launched into telling me about her new business endeavor and continued non-stop about her product, clients, value and what she was looking for in terms of clients, and what she wanted from me.
I get it. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and we’re all wearing milk bone underwear. I would be lying if I said I didn't understand the importance of hustle and grit. We all have bills to pay, expectations to live up to, and reputations to protect. Our instincts gravitate towards our ego, credentials and selling ourselves hard and fast. However, the "hard sell" as they call it, isn’t the way to do it.
After about 10 minutes of listening to her and 20 sips of coffee, I started to shut down. Twenty minutes in and I was planning my KETO lunch, and after 40 minutes, I was about 97% checked out - only paying attention to social cues to look like I was engaged with her.
This is all wrong.
Forget Everything You Know About Sales
There’s a reason why they say, success doesn’t happen overnight. I have built a successful business by first learning, and now coaching, on how to build lasting relationships and gain ongoing referrals and clients.
It’s very simple. Stop talking and start caring - really caring. Learn how to be genuine, authentic and vulnerable. Learn how to be you.
It’s a simple concept, but it’s certainly not always easy. For us to build solid, trusting relationships, we must unlearn everything we’ve been taught about sales. For as long as time, sales has always been about the elevator pitch, being clear and concise in who you are, what you do, what you sell and what you’re looking for. Here’s the problem, if you’re not needed in the moment, you’re out of sight, out of mind, and forgotten when the time comes and you're actually needed.
When we flip the way we think, and learn how to make people feel as if we’re completely invested in them rather than our own selves, others become addicted to us. Yes, addicted. They want to hire us, do business with us and just be around us.
Compassion, Understanding and Commonality
Humans are social animals. We all want to feel supported, valued and connected. When we approach others and talk about our own credentials and successes, we make them feel the opposite of that. Their defenses go up and they act like they’re on-guard. This is even more prevalent in sales.
If you approach a potential client or customer with compassion, understanding and commonality, you’ll appear authentic and relatable. In turn, they will gravitate to you, talk about you, buy from you, want to work for you and refer you. It’s as simple as that.
How It Should Have Went
Let’s replay what would have happened if my old acquaintance had taken this approach.
We sit down and she opens with, “Tell me about what’s been going on with you? I see you all over the place! I’m so curious as to what’s been happening over the last few years. You really seem to be making a huge impact, and I’m in awe of all that you’ve accomplished.”
For starters, I would have been completely flattered and humbled. I would have shared my story with her – all the ups and downs, because I would have felt that she genuinely cared. In turn, she’d listen intently and chime in when we had something in common (divorce, job loss, weight issues, stress, financial worries, deaths, pain, anxiety) because let's be honest, we all have those issues at one time or another.
I would have begun to feel comfortable and connected to her rather quickly – and from there, our relationship would have continued. But it didn’t, and it won’t.
If she had followed these simple rules, I would have wanted to see her again because she would have made me feel important and understood. I would have wanted to learn more about her, and how I can help her. Because we always want to help those we like, don't we? She would have left a lasting impression on me, and I would have talked to others about how great she is and referred her many times.
I may not have become a client or referred her immediately after that first meeting, but the chances that I would have in the future would have been greatly increased with the new approach.
Remember, trust, confidence and patience are vital to being successful in business and sales. This is why I do what I do. I truly believe, once you stop talking, you'll start selling. And I can help.
President & CEO