Don’t Sell?!

A recent study by McCord Training, reveals some interesting and powerful results. 

They surveyed 450 businesses to determine what was most effective in getting them to do business with people they had never done business with before.  They examined cold calling, referrals, meetings and conferences and so on.

What they found was that 39% of those surveyed, reported making a purchase from someone they had never done business with before as a result of a meeting, where they met at a conference or an event.  The result for cold call was 3.4%.  Where do you want be spending your time.

And yet for many of us a networking event inspires terror. There are some that go to these events and they are comfortable and they move with ease through the gathering meeting and connecting with people. Then there are others that go in and hug the wall and or the one person they know.

Let me offer some suggestions on how to optimize your time at a networking event:

Don’t sell. That does not mean you are there to socialize. We are trying to develop business.  We just don’t want to be obvious about it. People really don’t care about us.  It’s all about them. I recommend asking them questions to engage them in to build the relationship.

• What brings you here?
• What do you do?
• How did you start that?
• Would you like about that.
• What do your customers look like?
• How can I help you?

Meet people and learn how to serve.

Most people hate to go to networking events.  someone recently said they are like “drive-bys”, where people stand up and introduced themselves and the product.  “Hi, I’m John, and I sell widgets”. The others are saying “Who cares I’m here about my business”.

So how do we stand out from the crowd, by acting differently?  If you take the time to connect and generate rapport without trying to sell, you look different, dare I say it; you look professional.  Additionally, if you take the time to engage me and ask me what I do, why I do it, and do I like it, and so on; pretty soon the law of reciprocity kicks in, and I feel compelled to ask you what you do.  Now, I have asked you to tell me about your business Get it. Now it is not an intrusion! If I know you care about me, and, we make a connection, and you have not tried to sell me, I will in all likelihood, take your call when you do call.

When people ask us about our business something happens psychologically and they are now open to hear our message. At this point I would deliver my 60-second elevator message and then ask for an appointment (by phone or in person to explore in more detail). By not selling at the event we have an opportunity to have a warm call v. a cold call with someone who is interested in hearing our story. They are now inviting us to have a sales dialog!

What is your most successful networking tool?




  1. Hi John,

    This is pretty enlightening. Especially the information that 39% of the respondents did first time business with someone that they met at an event.

    But I would like to add something to your advice that might be helpful.

    One reason that people are terrified at a networking event is that they have nothing to say and don’t know anyone at the event. Of course, we’ve also been trained since we were kids to not talk to strangers. But I think that one of the major hurdles that causes most people to struggle at events is because they are attending the wrong events.

    What is the wrong event?

    An event that maybe has very few, or even no attendees in your target market. Imagine that you are a mortgage broker and you work closerly with RE agents. One day you attend a chamber event with 250 people there. As you try and develop a relationship with the myriad of home business owners present, you find yourself becoming frustrated because you aren’t making good connections and no one seems to care what you do.

    The next day you attend an event with 250 RE agents. Now these people understand what you do, you can ask them good questions, relate to their problems, and even offer them solutions. Now EVERYBODY wants to know who you are and how they can work with you.

    So my suggestion is to attend the events where you and your services will be understood and appreciated and enjoy meeting hundreds of your ideal clients. If you decide to attend general events where your ideal client will be in short supply, just enjoy the buffet!

  2. Good Points Dave,

    We often end up at the “wrong events”. I thnk we can work at salvaging them by networking and finding ouot how to serve. I met a banker today at an event where i was teaching communication skills and collection skills. As we talked she said “we are not competitors eh?” I replied, “no, we are colleagues that may be able to share leads. Tell me what would my buyer say that would say they might be a good prospect for you”?

    I think we can always look for the connection that leads to a connection. You never know where it will lead.

    Take Good Care,

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