Ditch the pitch if you want quality referrals

by Richard White on June 4, 2013 · 0 comments

PigeonThere is a time and place for everything and pitching is an important part of the sales process. It is most effective when you know the person you are speaking to, they have expressed an interest in what you are offering, and are expecting the pitch.

If your first impression of someone at a networking meeting is them blatantly trying to sell to the room, your most likely reaction would be to switch off and disengage. If that is true for you then it is just as likely to happen the other way around!

A much better way is to take the interest off you and onto potential referrers. Once you take an interest in them they will be more interested in getting to know you and what you do. It seems counter-intuitive but the more you sell what you do, even if there is a great need for it, the less people want to listen.

Here is a little story to illustrate the point:

It was Peter’s sixth birthday and as a special treat his father had taken him to the local park to feed the pigeons. Peter had heard from his school friends that it was possible to have pigeons eat from your hand and that is what Peter intended to do today. His father handed him a few slices of bread and clutching tightly he began to run towards a group of hungry looking pigeons shouting:

“Dinner time! Dinner time! Come and get some lovely bread!” As Peter approached, all the pigeons flew away. The more he tried the more pigeons left the park.  Peter finally bowed his head, bit his lip and began to sob. His father came over and put his arm around the little boy and said:

“‘Here Peter, let me show you how it’s done.”

His father broke off a few pieces of bread and slowly began sprinkling them on the floor and just ignored the pigeons. After a little while a couple of curious pigeons came forward and began to peck cautiously at the bread, all the time checking to make sure it was safe. Gradually the pigeons could sense it was safe and came a little closer eating the crumbs as they went, all the time checking for danger, poised to fly at any moment. The father gently lowered his hand very carefully opened his palm to display the crumbs. Before long one pigeon eased forward and began to peck at the crumbs in his hand. Then another pigeon came forward followed by another and another. Soon the whole area around the father and son was covered in pigeons all flying in from the local neighbourhood.

If you want to develop great business referrals and business prospects then you need to make sure you do not scare people away by coming across as a pushy sales person. Be natural and others will feel comfortable talking to you. These are the very people that could connect you to your biggest ever piece of business so it pays to take the time to develop a trusted relations and help them feel comfortable referring you.

Richard White
Richard White is a sales coach and trainer. He specialises in helping IT consultants win more sales through effective networking. Richard is the author of ‘The Accidental Salesman Networking Survival Guide’ and is a highly sought after speaker on the subjects of networking and soft selling.

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