Published: September 20,2004
Let’s do lunch!
Well, let’s do lunch the right way.
Too often, salespeople think that getting a lunch appointment is the victory and forget to make the sale. Big mistake.
Even more often, companies and managers will not reimburse salespeople for lunchtime meetings. Bigger mistake.
But most often, when a company refuses to pay for lunches, the salesperson won’t invest his or her own money to build a relationship and make a sale. Biggest mistake.
You don’t succeed for the company. In sales, you succeed for yourself.
OK, OK — so much for philosophy. Let’s get down to the meat — the lunchmeat. Let’s say you get the appointment. Now what do you do? How do you impress? How do you build the relationship? And most important: How do you make the sale?
Here are the 20.5 secret ingredients for lunch success. (No more food puns — I promise. Not another crumb, er, I mean morsel.)
1. Picking up your probable purchaser is preferable to meeting at the restaurant. This gives you extra schmooze time on the way to lunch — and more sell time on the way back.
2. Eat at the right place. If you have a GREAT place and you are sure your probable purchaser will like the food, go there. Otherwise, go to the probable purchaser’s favorite place. Make sure it’s a place you can talk: lots of space, quiet enough to converse and somewhat private.
3. Pay in advance or slip your credit card to the server before the meal — with instructions to bring you the processed bill when you signal. Tip 20%. Don’t be a tightwad.
4. Say the right things. Keep talk small at first: about lunch, about his interests, about how she got started.
5. Impress and impressions. Don’t complain about anything. Be polite even if the service is inadequate and the food is bland.
6. Mind your manners and mannerisms. Remember all the things your mother taught you and pounded into you? Make her proud. Turn your cell phone OFF. Don’t talk with your mouth full. You know what to do.
7. Greet others, but make it brief. If you see someone you know, be sure to say “Hi” and introduce your “probable purchaser” as “my new customer” or “my friend.”
8. Talk business when the probable purchaser brings it up. When do you start “talking business”? When the probable purchaser does — not before.
9. Ask thoughtful questions that focus on the probable purchaser’s needs. Ask: “Who are you trying to do business with?” Maybe you can make a connection. If you can’t, that’s a report card.
10. Keep the talk POSITIVE at all times. Besides manners, your mother said: “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, say nothing.” Never violate this rule — ever.
11. Being funny is fine, but don’t tell jokes. Jokes are the worst and lowest form of humor — especially if they are in poor taste — and double especially if the other person has heard the joke before. Both scenarios make you look foolish.
12. The more your probable purchaser talks, the more he or she will like you.
Ask about food.
Ask about travel.
Ask about eating out.
Ask about vacation.
Ask about sports.
Notice I DIDN’T say: “Tell about.”
13. Find the link. Use your time at lunch to discover what you have in common: things that will bring you to a closer mutual belief system — and closer to a sale.
14. Be yourself. If you have to fake it during lunch, the rest of the relationship will follow the falsehood. And worse, you’ll have to remember who you’re trying to be each time you get together.
15. Friendly beats professional. You’re having lunch with a potential or existing customer. Be friendly.
16. Understated is better than bragging. You don’t have to say how great you are — you have to prove it.
17. Don’t show off — be impressive. Understate your accomplishments. Give the probable purchaser a chance to shine.
18. Make the next appointment FIRM — no matter what. Even if you pencil a time and place to be confirmed later, make the next date FIRM.
19. Stick to the objective. If you’re there to make a sale, bring a contract and a pen. If you’re there to get to the next step in the sales cycle, make a firm appointment or you have failed lunch. (Remember, throughout high school, lunch was the one “course” you passed.)
20. Want another lunch? Guaranteed 100%? Offer to bring a prospect for the probable purchaser to the next lunch.
20.5 Send a follow-up with something personal — immediately. This will make the WOW carry forward to the next meeting.
Well, there you have it — the recipe for lunch success. All you have to add is you and a probable purchaser. You only have one chance. Make it a Biggie!
Free GitBit: Send me your “lunch” story. Good or bad experience, I want to publish your stories in Sales Caffeine, and reward you. Send your (short) story, about 250 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts online training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail to email@example.com.
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