I went to a networking event recently where I didn’t know anyone else attending. I walked in to the room, grabbed a cup of coffee and was greeted by a nice guy who immediately introduced himself. “Wow,” I thought; how nice! We made small talk for a couple minutes before I realized he was that guy.
You know the one I’m talking about. This is the person who comes to a networking event/party/fundraiser/whatever for the sole purpose of selling their product (and annoying the heck out of you in the process).
After explaining his product numerous times (which by the way, was the same product that hundreds of other companies had, but I digress…) he even had the gall to send me several follow-up emails with a newspaper article about how great his company was. Then he followed those up with a couple voicemails. Not cool.
And it should be clarified that from the beginning, I told him I wasn’t interested.
Now I work in PR and I’ve done my fair share of trying to “sell” a client/product/story and it didn’t take me long to realize that it doesn’t work. People generally don’t like to be sold to.
These days, everyone has an agenda. And business is all about who you know, right? So how do you sell whatever it is you’re selling without being that guy (or girl)? Here’s how:
- Explain what you do and what your product is (once!) and leave it at that. If people are interested, they’ll tell you.
- Don’t pounce. People hate to feel like they’re being pushed into a corner – and they especially hate it when you’re trying to sell them something.
- Ask about the other person – no one likes a one-way conversation; it screams selfishness.
- Just because someone hands you their business card, does not mean that you can add them to your email distribution list. This is a definite no-no.
- Be genuine; it goes a long way.
The moral of the story? It’s not about what you’re selling, it’s about how you’re selling it.