How To Work A Room? Don’t

One thing that turns people off in less than 30 seconds, is when they feel as if: “They’re the mark.”

Problem is, this isn’t an isolated predicament that happens to just one set of individuals. We all feel this way when we understand the only reason someone is searching us out, or speaking to us, is for the self-centered goal as to: Meet us, pitch us, close us, then abandon us in search of the next mark.

We all hate it. Yet, many do it thinking they need to as in, “that’s sales.” Well, it isn’t. It’s a strategy and tactics more in line with the con game than in real sales. No matter what is said in some so-called “guru’s” book under some guise of: 111 Sales techniques that are sure to bring you sales! Trust me when I say, all it will do is tick off everyone you ever try it with.

Currently there’s a meme being pushed to what I believe is complete and utter nonsense. The elevator pitch. If there is one thing that’s going to turn off anyone – anytime – anywhere you are seen entering a room, is if they know or believe they are going to be on the receiving end of yours. No matter how great you believe it to be. Period.

Whether you are new to sales, entrepreneurship or, a seasoned veteran. If you want to network as to have anyone find interest in both you as well as what you may have to offer, the last thing in the world you want to do is try as to “close the sale” when you’re first meeting anyone.

Today’s so-called “elevator pitch” is a derivative of what was once just a quick descriptor of what one was involved with that would peak interest for further conversation. Not what is being pushed today as some form of mental entrapment vehicle to foster closing a sale on that spot.

If you want to have an exponential rise in gaining worthy followup leads from any network event, here is just one thing to work on, remember, then utilize.

First things first: Drop the whole “pitch” garbage and have a 10 to 15 second expression (aka: value proposition) of what you do that is both interesting yet, vague as possible. Here’s an example using myself:

  • You: “So Mark, tell me what you do?”
  • Me: “I help individuals as well as corporate clients to re-define and align their aspirations for dramatic growth.”
  • You: “That’s sound interesting but pretty vague. Can you give me a little more detail?”

That is exactly what I want to happen. I want it to be vague. I want to elicit questions I can answer. Not push answers to questions that are not being asked. After all, any answers (or pitch) I give you that you haven’t asked, is just wasted breath is it not?

So how would I respond to this question? Would I then go into full-bore “sales” mode where I start trying to sell you some new and improved “left brain – right brain” extravaganza program that is available only for this limited time and, if you don’t purchase it now – the 20% discount I made available for this event will be gone so, “You better act now and what is your credit card number again?”

Sounds foolish yet that’s precisely what a great many of you will do and not realize it. What’s worse? That person will not only be looking for an exit – they’ll run for cover every time there’s even a remote chance of running into you again. So here’s how I would respond…

  • Me: “I know it can sound that way, so let me ask you a question to help explain. What’s one of the more challenging aspects or difficulties you may be having in this current economy?”
  • You: “Oh its sales, or hiring qualified personnel, or procrastination, or sticking to goals, or time management, or, or, or, or….”
  • Me: “That sounds interesting. Tell me how that affects you during any given day. Or better yet, give me an example of how that works into your day, and how you’re now treating or handling this issue.”

If you notice I am not talking “me” here. Nor, have I wasted time as in launching into something I have to sell. i.e., How I can help them if they would only act now and talk, “to the operators that are standing by.”
I am involved in conversation. Not pitching. I want to elicit a discussion where I should be able to give a brief, yet cogent response that demonstrates I have answers that can help.

However, the full answers, where details and instructions along with the direct benefits that I have to offer are to be discussed at the next meeting. The meeting that will take place when I follow-up with: “Why don’t we get together say Tuesday and discuss further on how we can possibly work together?”

That is true networking or “working a room.” Not what transpires today as groups throwing pitches at each other with neither a batter nor catcher present. Just looking at the field, is it any wonder why nobody gets on base at these meeting?

You, or anyone in attendance are more than likely there for no other reason than to network and gain leads. (Far too many are there to collect as many business cards as possible. As if more cards meant some form of prize. It doesn’t. That’s a losers game.) However, even though both of us are at such an event with possibly the same intentions. I am in control of any initial conversation as to whether or not a so-called “lead” is worth pursuing further. And, if that’s the reason for attending, then that’s what you should be doing successfully. Not gauging your success by merely counting how many times one exchanges cards or pleasantries.

As “you” elaborate to me an expression on what issues you may find challenging. I have the ability to listen and formulate whether or not I have something to offer.

If I started this conversation as far too many will. i.e., “Hi my name is Mark, and I sell motivational books and CD’s to help energize people to be the best they can be! And today I’m offing a discount of over 20% off my already low-priced set of ‘Motivating Yourself for Fun and Profits!’ Originally $129.00 but today only for this event, if you can act now you can receive it for only $99.00! But wait….There’s more!”
You would have tuned me out right after, “and I sell…” if not before.

Although the example is ludicrous, many of you will launch into a diatribe very similar only substituting the products and price. So – is it any wonder why when you go to most networking events you find they’re less entertaining than repeats on network TV?

Think this doesn’t apply to what you have to sell? Bunk.

Sell cosmetics? How about: “I help people tackle issues due to seasonal changes.”

Vague? Yep. However, when the second set of bullet points above begins to unfold. I don’t even sell cosmetics but my next line might be, “Tell me one of the issues you find challenging from summer to winter with dry skin.” Or, _________(fill in the blank.)

If I were to come right out like most using my above example, i.e., “I sell cosmetics that help people blah, blah, blah.” The first thing that’s going to go through your mind is: “I’ve got drawers full of them and what I don’t need is another drawer full.” Followed by: “Oh look! Excuse me, I see someone I need to speak to over there. If I need something I’ll call you, I’ve got your card, Thanks!”

You need to create your own compelling version to open a conversation as to move it towards whether or not you have anything to offer that a client will both use, and more importantly – purchase.

People buy value. So what you need is to have your value proposition ready at all times. And people will buy – if, you can demonstrate they need what you have to offer. But that won’t happen if you offer them something they may instinctively feel they don’t want or need more of.

It doesn’t matter how much of anything anyone may already have. It’s all about you offering “the right one.” The one that fixes or helps fulfill the promise of a fix. People want and need solutions to issues. And – they will pay for it. Price be damned if you can prove the value.

Here’s another. Sell jewelry? Well, you may open conversations with: “I help people pick the perfect expression to commemorate their affections or achievements.” Followed again by the second set of bullet points. I hope you’re grasping the concept here.

What you should want to transpire at any of these type events, is to qualify whether an actual potential sale is possible. And this only happens by qualifying people you meet through their own inspired or expressed dialogue. All the while you might simultaneously be seen as the most interesting person in the room because…

All anyone talked about when with you – was about themselves.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr