Sales Q&A – Entertaining

Q. Dave, I have read your comments about the value of entertaining, and I agree with you.  But, I have a problem.  I still find a percentage of customers who keep me at “arms length.”  How do I overcome this attitude from the select few of my customers?

A. What!  Not everyone thinks you are great?  Alas, it is the sales person’s lot in life to have some customers who just don’t want to get close to you.  Worse yet, some actively dislike you.

How do you handle this?

Try something radically different, in terms of entertaining, than what you have done in the past.  Create an opportunity for your customer to spend time with you and your spouse/significant other in an entertaining and non-threatening venue.

Here’s an example from my experience.  One of my highest potential accounts was presided over by a middle-aged lady who just did not like me.  I spent a fruitless two years trying to make some headway in that account, but was constantly rebuffed.

At that time, my company had six season tickets to the University of Michigan football games.  When it was my turn to use them, I invited that lady and her husband, as well as one other customer with whom I had a much better relationship and his wife.  My wife accompanied us, for a party of six.  I know my “cold customer” would not have come had it not been the one time in her life where she and her husband would be able to see a live U of M football game.

Group Of Happy Friends With Raised Arms by photostock ID-10038155

It was a glorious Fall afternoon and we did it right, with a tailgate meal preceding the game, and several rounds of drinks following the game.  Because my wife was with me, it took a little of the edge off the tension that existed between us.  As the afternoon moved on, the tension faded away.  At the end of the afternoon, we had become friends, with a mutual respect for one another.

Business began to grow from that day forward, until that account became one of my best accounts.

So, option one – try to get them into an out-of-the-office situation where you can come to know one another as people, not necessarily as sales person and customer.

If you can’t pull that off, then try plan B.  Find someone else in the account with whom you can work.  Build relationships with that person and leverage that relationship into greater visibility in the account.

Another example from my experience.  One of my accounts was overseen by a crusty, irritable older man who told me, the first time I called on him:  “We have too many vendors now, we don’t need another one.  And, while we don’t know much about your company, what we have heard we don’t like.”

The next few times that I called on him, he lied to me repeatedly.  I decided that I was not going to get anywhere with him, and found some other people within the account upon whom I could call.  I was successful with them, and gradually built the business until I was the largest vendor within that account.

The older man’s attitude slowly changed to the point that he and his wife accompanied my wife and me to a Tiger baseball game.  At the end of the evening, his wife took me aside, and with tears in her eyes, thanked me for the evening, saying that “No one has ever done this for him before.”

So, plan B.  Go around the person, building relationships with someone else.

Now, if those two strategies don’t work, then console yourself with Kahle’s rule number one of sales:  You don’t sell them all!  Wait around for something or someone to change.  Eventually, everything does.

Good luck!

About the author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written twelve books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. His most recent book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime, has been named one of the “five best business books,” by three international entities.

The Sales Resource Center® contains 455 audio and video training programs for sales people, sales managers, and Chief Sales Officers.

All rights reserved

Image courtesy of photostock / freedigitalphotos.net

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *