Posts Tagged 'sales'

Eavesdropping or good business

I was at a Starbucks yesterday (I don’t think the training helped them), and I couldn’t help but overhear the people at the table next to me.  They were a man and a woman, and they seemed to be acquaintances who were catching up on their respective business lives.  The man was a much louder talker, and I could hear him talking about the funds he has put together to invest in real estate.  Specifically, he was investing in medical buildings. 

Now..I am attempting to get my services into the medical industry, and having someone with access to the tenants of a medical building is like gold.   At what point am I allowed to bust into the conversation and talk about my services?  I know that makes my eavesdropping obvious, and may be a huge turn-off for this gentleman.  On the other hand, they are talking at a very crowded Starbucks so they have to have some expectation that someone will hear their conversation. 

Since we’ve adopted this relatively new culture of coffee shop meetings, Starbucks-communting, and very open network conversations, is this type of business acceptible?  Is every conversation that takes place at a Starbucks just like a conversation that takes place over a blog…you have to assume EVERYONE is listening. 

In the past I have actually stopped at a table on my way out, apologized for overhearing their conversation, and dropped my card.  Sometimes it has led to a talk.  Sometimes it has led to a LinkedIn connection.  On this day I did nothing.  I had to run to a meeting, and didn’t have time to talk, in the event that the couple wanted to engage further.  However, it did cause me to consider the idea that Starbucks is essentially a real-life blog…or, rather, blogs are an online Starbucks.

Comedy and sales

I used to be a stand-up comic in my spare time, and I feel the need to make the cheesy comparison of a good joke (or “bit”, as we call them) and a good sales cycle. 

A good bit has a set up and a punch line.  Of course, as there are different types of jokes, there are different types and lengths of setups.  I’m sure everyone has had a jooke told to them by someone who really gets into the setup.  They act it out, do voices, drag things on and on.  With all that build up, they better have a phenomenal punch line, otherwise it is a huge disappointment, and waste of time.   

There are also those that have a very understated setup.  You almost don’t even realize it is the setup of a joke.  It seems like just a conversation.  Until the punchline hits, and you take a few seconds to realize “that was a joke, and it was funny.” 

Of course there are those who are terrible joke-tellers.  They tell the punch line which doesn’t make sense, only to have to back track and give more setup.  Completely ruins what could otherwise be a great joke.

Salespeople work the same way.  There is a setup – prospecting and information gathering stage – followed by a punch line – proposal and closing stage.  Each proposal and close has to have the perfect setup with it to ensure a smooth cycle.  There is no reason to go over the top with the setup, if there is a poor service to be offered at the end.  The prospect will feel they’ve been duped, and they’ve wasted their time.  Likewise, there can’t be a great punch line, with no need built up.  It makes the salesperson have to go back and justify the proposal after the all important price has been given. 

A really good salesperson understands how to set up a proposal, just as a really good comic knows exactly how to word and deliver the setup to get the maximum out of the punch line.