I witnessed an interesting phenomena play out on several social media threads yesterday. The topic was saturation. The question was “Have you ever used brand X”. People were commenting if they had or had not. The good news was that even with large companies, half of the respondents had never tried the product. Some of those responded they had never even HEARD of it! So good news.. saturation is a myth… let’s move on.
What was troubling was this, the number of representatives posting their links on the thread! Excuse us, we are having a conversation here! It was truly shocking. Those representatives had an opportunity to become part of the conversation, to build a rapport and lay the foundation for sales. They had a golden opportunity to grow their businesses. Instead, they turned people off by posting their website links on the thread. Moreover, many went to the lengths of private messaging participants with business offers.
If this doesn’t seem like boorish behavior to you, let me change the scene. You, I and about 50 other people are at a cocktail party. I am going from group to group having conversation. We are having lovely conversations. One conversation turns to car insurance. A person from another group comes running over, whips out business cards and starts passing them out! The next day he emails and calls people trying to sell them insurance. RIDICULOUS? No, it just happened. It happened in front of my very eyes on every discussion we had.
What was reinforced for me yet again… that we have no idea how to network. In all the high tech, we have lost our social skills. We don’t know how to engage others in conversation or direct that conversation where we need it to go. So instead, we just act like a bull in a china shop.
The next time you find yourself in that situation, slow down and follow these tips:
1. Don’t talk about yourself. Ask about them.
2. Participate in the discussion.
3. Guide the conversation with the questions you ask.
4. Lead with benefits (that they care about).
5. Don’t ever try to sell ANYTHING in the first contact.
6. Relax and take the time to lay a foundation. Sales is a trust business.