FAQ: What do I do when I’m in the middle of a one-to-one meeting and the person I’m meeting with starts to do their sales pitch on me?
I get this question fairly frequently, which tells me that there are a lot of people out there who are not getting relevant referral marketing training for the current marketplace. Direct prospecting is out. Referrals are “in”!
This typically happens when you’re meeting with someone new. The biggest offenders of this, in my experience, are the network marketing folks (also known as direct sales or multi-level marketing), and insurance (especially life insurance). To be fair to them, many of them have had no previous sales training and are told, “this is how you do it… pitch to everyone you meet!” In those industries, everything is a numbers game, so pitching to everyone makes sense. In the meantime the number of people avoiding that person is growing daily. Direct prospecting is not a relationship builder, it’s a deterrent!
What do they Want?
So, what do we do with these people? As you become a more experienced networker, you will find you develop a sense if someone might be a sales pitch-er when you meet them. Regardless if you think your one-to one partner is a sales pitch-er or not, a good practice to develop is to set expectations when you set the appointment. You can ask, “What is your intention for our meeting?” If they say something totally direct like, “I think you would be great at selling this product,” or “You should really know about what I’m doing.” Then you know they probably want to pitch to you. That would merit a follow up question or posing a clarification.
Because people know I know a lot of people and that I am influential in my network, I get a lot of: “I want you to know about what I do because you know a lot of people who would be great for it.”
If they say, “so we can get to know each other’s businesses.” Without the inclusion of some personal aspect, I would always clarify and maybe make a suggestion for what we might discuss:
“Personally, I find first meetings are great to get to know the person as well as the business. I’m looking forward to that.”
“I always enjoy meeting new people. As I grow my network I find that the people that I really am looking to meet are business owners that are interested in a long term relationship, who will be a part of the local business community for the coming years.”
Give Them a Place to Start
A great structure for a first one-to-one is a tool we use in both Referral Institute® and BNI® (so anyone you meet with who is in BNI should be familiar with the idea) is the G.A.I.N.S. Profile. People in BNI® ideally, should know better than to pitch on a one-to-one, but believe me, it happens! It’s easy to suggest, “Let’s bring our G.A.I.N.S. Profile and start there!”
If you’re new to the term, G.A.I.N.S. stands for Goals, Achievements, Interests, Networks, and Skills. Sharing these things about yourself – from both the personal and professional aspects of your life – does wonders for starting that long-lasting relationship you and your one-to-one partner are looking for.
Setting your intention and expectations for a one-to-one should avoid most sales pitches. If you are meeting with someone you think might be a sales pitch-er, I would reinforce the intentions set for the one-to-one again when you meet. “When we set our one-to-one we agreed that we would get to know each other personally, and if we get to it, a little about our businesses. Does that still work for you?” or “Let’s go over our G.A.I.N.S. Profile like we agreed we would. I’ve just updated mine, so thank you for encouraging me to get it done in time for our one-to-one!”
When they Still don’t Get It
But what if it still happens? What if someone starts pitching you in the middle of a one-to-one? Here are a few different suggestions:
- If they say something like, “it’s easier for me to just show you like I show my clients,” that’s a red flag for an incoming sales pitch! You can say, “I can appreciate that. What I would really like is for us to continue this discussion as potential referral partners. One of the first things I need to know to better refer you is, what is your Target Market?”
- Place your hand on their hand or arm and say, “May I interrupt you for a moment? This is starting to feel like a sales presentation to me, and I know that is not your intention since our agreement for today’s meeting was to meet for a one-to-one, not a sales appointment.”
- Place your hand on their hand or arm and say, “May I interrupt you for a moment? I don’t know if anyone has told you or not … common practice in our area is that we don’t actually pitch to people on a one-to-one. I wouldn’t want for you to develop the wrong reputation!”