When you have an important business meeting with someone who will be instrumental in either opening the door to business – or closing it, you want to make a good first impression.
You want to make an amazing first impression.
You want to charm the cover off this person’s iPad. You know that competition is fierce and this person already is talking to several other vendors.
When your offering is comparable to what everyone else is bringing to the table, you want something that will cause you to stand head and shoulders above the rest. You want a strong differentiator, a way that will allow you to be remembered in a positive light.
Fear not, hard-working, deal-making entrepreneur. I’ve got an answer.
And boy howdy… is it effective.
A salesman’s sure-fire method for connecting quickly with a prospect
My father taught me this trick years ago and I’ve used it successfully ever since to connect quickly with people.
In fact, when I was an ad salesperson for a local newspaper, I used this method consistently to successfully sell our ads.
My sales territory included both busy suburban retail stores and those in rural areas. One store in particular sold farm equipment.
If I had been smarter back then, I would have dressed down a little in order to connect with the manager of the store. Instead, I walked in dressed in a charcoal-gray suit jacket and skirt, black pumps, and carrying a briefcase.
However, because my dad taught me this secret, I ended up walking out with an order for a month’s worth of ads. The store turned out to be one of my best customers.
The secret power of observation
How did I do it?
My dad said, “Whenever you walk into someone’s office, notice what’s on their walls, in their bookcase, and on their desk. What they value will be usually be there. Find something they value and talk to them about it.”
And that’s what I did.
The manager invited me to his office and I looked around. I noticed he had a horse inspector certificate on the wall. I happened to love horses. So I asked him about the certificate. I asked how long he had worked with horses, what were some of the things he inspected, and so on.
I also told him that I had visited the Kentucky Horse Park and that the Belgians were my favorite. After that, I loved the Mustangs. I talked about how I rode my cousin’s Buckskin Quarter Horse during one summer and fell in love.
We probably talked for a good fifteen minutes about horses. And then he asked why I came by.
I walked out with an order.
Do your homework
If you have an important meeting with someone, prepare by doing a little homework.
This is so much easier with the Internet. Back in the day, all I had was a wall to look at. Now you can easily log into Google and research your prospect.
Check out your prospect’s LinkedIn profile to see what type of groups she joined. Read the profile carefully to see if it gives any snippets of her hobbies or interests.
If the person doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile, try other routes such as a Twitter, Google+, or Facebook account (if they haven’t protected their updates). Again, read carefully what they talk about.
Whatever it is, take note and start digging to find out more about that topic.
It could be that you find a common interest. But even if you don’t, look into whatever it is that interests the other person and be prepared to talk about it.
Revive the fine art of conversational courtesy
Some may wonder if this is manipulative. In response, I’d ask this simple question:
Do you want to sell something?
If so, then you need all the advantages you can get. The faster you can get your prospect to give you a chance to present your solution, the better. When all things are equal, it’s a challenge to find something that will give you a slight edge. This method of connecting with people will often do it.
I also firmly believe this method is a beautiful way to pay homage to the fine art of conversation. Too often, business people think that a “just the facts, ma’am” approach works best. After all, aren’t we all too busy to engage in frivolous chit-chat?
I say no, we most certainly aren’t. Chit-chat is what makes us human.
I know for instance that Copyblogger’s Brian Clark loves to talk about 80’s bands and Gary Vaynerchuk loves talking about the Jets. Anyone who wanted to do business with these two men would be smart to talk to them about either The Smiths or Mark Sanchez.
It’s a courtesy to show people that we’re interested in whatever interests them.
Learn this and you’ll be on your way toward making a memorable connection.