Spare Me the Hard Sell Stranger!

'You don't know me but ....

I was exhibiting at a very popular local event last week. The hall was humming, the visitors plentiful, interested and extremely well targeted. And then one particular woman came to my stand. Bypassing the pleasantries of saying hello to me or even showing a glimmer of interest in me or the books on my stand, she began a pitch which lasted a couple of minutes (no gaps for any interruption). The services she was pitching to me I already receive from a client. When I told her this, she pressed on,  undeterred, asking me if I would recommend her services to my clients anyway.

It’s safe to say I will not be recommending her to anyone, let alone precious clients.

What did she do that was so wrong?

Well, it’s never a good idea when someone has gone to the trouble of having an exhibition stand, to rock up and try and sell to them while they are manning it. But, before even considering asking a complete stranger if they will recommend you on the basis of a two minute pitch, it surely makes sense to engage in some form of charm offensive; to perhaps show an interest in their business and to ascertain that they have a need for what you are offering. Above all, it makes sense to try and identify common ground – where you can work together for mutual benefit.

I observed the woman as she walked around the event, repeating her pitch to other exhibitors only to walk away a few minutes later, clearly empty-handed but presumably still believing that this is how you do business.

I’m of the belief that you have to know, like and trust a person before you can recommend them to your clients or consider using them yourself. People have to buy people before they will consider buying products and services.

Have you been approached in this way and, if you have, what was your reaction?

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  1. Mike Robinson says:

    Hi Dee, great post and hits home hard on “how not to do business”. Whenever someone tries to sell to me like this, my response would be exactly as yours. Indeed the only way we have come to be successful in our field as is by listening and understanding. This builds lasting relationships with our clients that lead to great recommendations and referrals. Some of our competitors are still very hard sell which people dislike so much in today’s world – nevertheless their actions create more opportunities for us to shine!

    • dee blick says:

      Your comments are spot on Mike and thank you so much for stopping by my blog and sharing them. And very nicely written too….

  2. Oliver Lawrence says:

    I think you can still sell to people when they are manning their stand, if what you are selling can help them to market their products/services better. That way, your appeal is more directly relevant to their presence at the event.

    One challenge then is to make them see how you could improve what they have already done, but without putting their nose out of joint (as what you are trying to improve may have been done in house). Another is to make sure you’re speaking to the right person (the decision-maker rather than the attractive presence front of house).

    • dee blick says:

      HI Oliver, thank you for replying. I agree that it is possible to sell to a stand owner but this has to be done with extreme sensitivity, charm and flair if a swift rebuttal is not to follow and to quote a friend of mine ‘there has to be rice in each person’s bowl’. I enjoyed reading your response.

  3. Sarah Paybe says:

    Completely agree Dee, I believe we are either in selling mode or buying mode, some of the trade shows we attend can cost thousands and it’s very frustrating when people don’t realise that exhibitors aren’t there to buy!

    • dee blick says:

      Hi Sarah I know and I have been lucky enough to be with you at an event where your stand was mobbed out thankfully with people wanting to buy your gorgeous chocolate.

  4. Paul Newton says:

    We don’t have a massive marketing budget (it’s more like a whip round), so we can’t afford to neglect ‘real’ prospects when we’ve gone to the expense of buying a stand, I just ask sales people to leave a business card, or contact us after the event (most don’t).

    • dee blick says:

      A very important point you have made Paul. Your time has to be spent on real prospects. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Kourosh Wallace says:

    Although I disagree with Cassanova’s approach in life, there was something very profound in what he once said: “Make every approach with each individual a work of art”. I value this philosophy a great deal – rather than just clinging onto the short hopeful result it’s about the impression you leave on everyone and how the results of the impact will ‘ripple off into eternity’… It’s just amazing to hear there are people who behave in the way this woman did – especially in a marketing event! It just goes back to basics with conducting a simple communication… Dee, thank you for sharing this experience with us. I hope one day I will be lucky enough to bump into you in person. I am certain our conversations would be incredible educational for me. Have a lovely day, all the best.