The science of the sale, the art of doing lunch
Let’s do lunch! Well, let’s do lunch the right way.
Too often, salespeople think getting a lunch appointment is the victory and don’t concentrate on building rapport and the relationship to ultimately make the sale. Big mistake.
Even more often, companies and (cheap) 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.
Reality: In sales, 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 lunch meat.
Let’s say you get the appointment. Now what do you do? How do you plan? How do you impress? How do you relate? How do you build the relationship? And most important: How do you make the sale?
Here are the 20.5 secret recipes for lunch success. (No more food puns, I promise. Not another crumb, er, I mean morsel).
1. Picking them up is preferable to meeting them there. This gives you extra schmooze time on the way to lunch. And more rapport and sell time on the way back.
2. Eat at the right place. If you have a great place and you are sure they like that type of food, go there — otherwise go to their 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 at the start and tell him or her to just bring you the processed bill when you signal. Tip 20 percent. Don’t be a tightwad.
4. Say the right things. Keep talk small at first — about lunch, about their interests, about how they got started. More “them” and less “you.”
5. Impress and impressions. Don’t fuss about anything — be polite even if the service sucks and the food is bad.
6. 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 the person as “my new customer” or “my friend.”
8. Talk business when they bring it up. When do you start “talking business”? When they do, not before.
9. Ask thought-provoking questions about them. Ask who they are 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 teaching you manners, your mother said, “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, say nothing.” Do not violate this rule, no matter what.
11. Be funny 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 it before. Both scenarios make you look foolish.
12. The more they talk, the more they 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. Closer to a sale.
14. Be yourself, unless you’re a slob. If you have to fake it at lunch, the rest of the relationship will have to follow the falsehood. And worse, you’ll have to remember who you’re trying to be each time you get back together.
15. Friendly beats professional. You’re having lunch with a potential or existing business friend. 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 prospect a chance to shine. Make them ask about you.
18. 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 from high school — lunch was the one course you passed).
19. 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.
20. Want another lunch? Offer to bring a prospect for them to the next lunch — 100 percent guarantee of a date.
20.5 Send a follow-up with something personal right away. Take a selfie with you and the prospect, and send an Outstand email (outstand.com) as you’re leaving. Make the wow factor 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 prospect. You only have one chance. Make it a biggie!
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 bestselling books. His real-world ideas also are available as online courses at gitomerlearningacademy.com. For information about training and seminars, visit gitomer.com or gitomercertifiedadvisors.com, or email Jeffrey at email@example.com.
Editor’s note: Jeffrey Gitomer is on sabbatical. This column originally appeared in the Sept. 8, 2015, Business Journal