Published: December 1969
By: Richard Abraham
“Because he was funny!” Came the answer from one corner of the convention ballroom.
“He was familiar . . . friendly,” yelled out another audience member.
“You are both right,” I agreed, as I continued to scan my audience of stock brokers and sales managers. “But think about it, we had a lot of funny, familiar choices. Why did we turn the channel night after night to the Tonight Show and Johnny Carson”?
Finally, the answer I was looking for came from a young man sitting just in front of me in the very first row. “Because he made us feel good!”
“That’s it!” I answered, moving in to high five my new friend. “He made us feel good. Now . . . let me ask you this . . . how would you like to be competing against someone like Johnny Carson while selling securities? Somebody who makes your clients feel that good during a sales call and beyond?”
The crowd murmured, most people shaking their heads at the daunting prospect of such a scenario.
“Well, I have some bad news . . . and some great news. You actually have competitors, right now, who are doing this . . .with incredible success. But, the great news is . . . you could be one of them! And if you choose to operate this way, you will be tapping into a secret shared by the world’s elite communicators and salespeople. That is, that great communications are not, at their essence, about data . . . they are about feelings!”
I have spent the past twenty five years studying how the top marketers and salespeople on earth smash their competition by establishing and maintaining deep personal relationships with their customers. Yes, they provide great products and services at a fair price. But they give more, much more, which I address in my book, “Mr. Shmooze. The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships.”
When Promotional Products Business asked me to consider this article, I jumped at the chance, because I cannot think of a more perfect match between marketing, sales and a related industry. The visceral, tangible ways that great promotional products and concepts can touch people is absolutely extraordinary in the marketing world.
The master shmoozers of the world have always used promotional products to generate excitement, enthusiasm and loyalty. I know a business owner in Minneapolis who frames the first contract (sale) his young brokers write, along with their pictures, and sends them to . . . get this . . . the brokers’ mothers! Talk about bonding!
I recently had a Fortune 500 company send beautiful Harley Davidson bookends to its motorcycle enthusiasts. There is a real estate brokerage firm in Florida whose owner designed his entire company’s headquarters like a huge game of Monopoly, with various Monopoly properties on the floor, huge hotel pieces in various spots and life size pictures of employees (in cardboard) scattered around the building. Can you imagine how much fun these people have . . . how contagious their enthusiasm is?
This is the great secret of all world class salespeople . . . they don’t “sell” anything. They don’t “take,” “push,” “pressure” . . . they are much too wise, too in love with people to do any of those stereotypical things.
Great salespeople “give for a living.” Fanatically. Relentlessly. And the gift they give usually has very little to do with the actual business at hand. It is much more about feelings, joy, memories and esteem.
Promotional products can play a wonderful role in this dance of feelings because they stimulate the senses and add a beautiful, added dimension to the dialogue. When a creative promotional theme comes together with a great relationship event and/or meeting, it generates the “perfect marketing storm,” bringing all the senses into play to develop a special memory that often lasts a lifetime.
I ask communicators to lock in to five points which bring the world of marketing/sales and promotional products together.
• Figure out what really matters to the prospect. (Hint: It usually has nothing to do with the business at hand.) Capitalize on the opportunity to enter the prospect’s emotional world. By paying close attention to your prospects and clients, you can figure out what really drives them. You’ll find clues in the photos in their office or the thing they bring up in casual conversation. The key is, be alert.
• Practice the art of elevation. In every interaction, seek to elevate the prospect’s experience to a memorable level that goes above and beyond the ordinary. The book’s “Dinner à la Shmooze” chapter demonstrates how a business dinner becomes an event to remember when it’s elevated with a surprise car wash service, a gift of wrapped steak knives, and several ice-breaking games that have people bonding like mad.
• If you’re thinking the dinner story in our book is over the top, price-wise, relax. You can shmooze without spending a fortune. There are plenty of ways to elevate a client or prospect’s experience with you that don’t cost much, if anything. You can call him on his wedding day or attend his daughter’s soccer game. Or if you discover that your client loves Thai cooking or Afghan hounds-based on books or photos you saw in her office-you can e-mail her a link to an Asian recipe website or send her a book on exotic dog breeds you found on clearance at the bookstore. These small gestures can make a big difference.
• Do your follow-up shmoozing immediately. Read Mr. Shmooze and you discover in the very first chapter that, the minute the protagonist leaves a meeting, he’s on his cell phone with his assistant asking her to send things to his clients, prospects, and colleagues: Braves tickets, real estate license class schedules, articles from the Internet, and so forth. In proper schmoozing, time is of the essence. There’s a graph we show clients that illustrates what psychologists call the recency effect. It shows that within a week a potential buyer has forgotten 90 percent of what a salesperson shows her. And in fact, a lot is forgotten in the first 24 hours after a meeting. But if you send someone a book or a tie the very next day, you go a long way toward overcoming that effect. Plus, if you make it standard procedure to do your follow-up shmoozing right away, you won’t forget to do it.
• Don’t limit your schmoozing to “people who matter.” Everyone matters. Mr. Shmooze shmoozes everyone, not just potential clients or people with money. He generously tips bartenders, gives expensive cigars to carhops, gives restaurant hostesses cosmetic gifts. Why? Because these are the people who carry out those all-important “little details” that elevate the entire experience to a higher level. By shmoozing service people you not only motivate them to do a good job for your prospects, you set in motion a “compound interest” effect that can benefit you in the future. You don’t know who the waiter’s parents are, or, for that matter, what the waiter himself will be doing when he gets out of college.
At the end of the day, whether it is our lawyer or doctor, our banker or insurance agent, our tailor or our neighbors, we gravitate toward people that we like. And in business, all else being equal, this rule applies as well. In this short lifetime of ours, we want to spend time with people who make us feel good, and that’s what great marketing, sales and promotional products are all about.
Richard Abraham is the author of “Mr. Shmooze. The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships.” He conducts workshops and provides keynotes on how to make deep emotional connections with prospects and clients. He can be contacted at http://www.mrshmooze.wordpress.com/contact-us/.