Just Introducing Yourself is NOT Adding Value

in Preparation

Have you ever attended a business networking mixer?

You know, the happy hour events where people walk around introducing themselves, hoping to make contacts that will result in referrals or business.

Oh I know they are useful for salespeople in certain types of businesses.

And perhaps the couple of events that friends have dragged me to are not representative of most, but I was amused by the ones I did visit.

I observed plenty of hungry–almost desperate–salespeople walking around, introducing themselves, feigning interest in the other person, then launching into their own pitch, stuffing their cards in the hands of everyone they could.

I’d watch people during these interactions–and experienced it myself–where after one person would leave, the other would roll her eyes and say to a companion,

“Gawd, I’m glad he left.”

These types of events caused me to borrow the name and attach it to a type of call: The Networking Mixer Call.

It’s calling and to say you “Just wanted to introduce yourself.”

Just like at the event itself, that is not adding value on a call.

I’m talking about the sales rep who starts a call with, “I’ve just taken over your account/I’m new here/I the rep in your area and I wanted to introduce myself to you.”

This type of call is very common with reps who are new to an organization, others who’ve just been handed inactive accounts, or accounts from a departed (andor fired) sales rep.

After introducing themselves, these callers normally continue with something about how they’ll be calling on a regular basis, and if the customer ever needs anything to just call, yadda, yadda.

The callers seem nice enough when they phone, but let’s get real here: what are the listeners thinking after they hear this introduction?

About the best that can be expected:

“Oh, OK, thanks for calling.”

And that’s the response from the customers who actually ARE customers … those who buy on a fairly regular basis. But let’s face it, most of the best accounts are quickly gobbled up by, or assigned to more experienced reps. And that leaves the marginal “accounts” that we’re talking about here.

So, when these “accounts” get this networking mixer “I wanted to introduce myself”-call, the confused customers are likely thinking,

“Account? I don’t ever recall buying from you.”

Or, “I bought from you guys once, over a year ago. I don’t care who my rep is.”

“I have a sales rep?”

“You’re with who?”

“Oh, another new one.”

I’m sure there might be some managers reading this who have instructed their reps to use the Networking Mixer Introduction, and they’re feeling denial right now, trying to defend the approach, saying it’s service-oriented, and all that other touchy-feely stuff.

But anyone who has actually placed these calls for a few days has likely been bloodied up enough to have realized the cold hard truth:

It wastes the listener’s time.

This might come as a shock to some, but unless the customer’s very business existence relies on your regular phone call, calling them with this self-serving declaration is viewed as a call that simply announces a policy YOU’VE implemented, or news at YOUR company. It’s all “us” oriented. You might as well call them and say,

“I’m just calling to let you know that here at our company we’ve added three new people in the Accounting department, and we just resurfaced the parking lot.”

Bottom line, it evokes a yawn, and a great big, “So what?”

It doesn’t move you closer to your objective, which is to make a sale either on this call–or a subsequent one–and build a relationship.

So, what SHOULD you do?

Next week I’ll give specific rules for these types of calls, and examples of what to say to keep the call going, and help the listener see value in speaking with you. As a preview, they all involve bringing something to the table that is all about the prospect, not about what you want to sell. They must be able to say after the call that speaking with you was worthwhile.

I’d like your input. If you call regular accounts, what do you do and say to position yourself as a true value-added partner? Please comment below.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Sawisky March 6, 2014 at 9:42 am

I once read that the best method to become a star at a net working event was to ask people I met what their biggest challenges in their business were at that time. If someone I just met might be a potential solution provider for that challenge I would introduce the two parties and briefly give the nickel tour as to what might be of benefit to each party and let them dialogue.
Aside from that when people ask me, eventually what I do, I down play it a bit and say that they may not have any interest in what I do, especially if they are well looked after already in the financial services field although if they weren’t then I would ask more questions and or perhaps ask what is it that I could do better for them.
Love your articles Art, I can’t say enough about what great information you make available for us in the trenches!
Thank you!
Mike Sawisky

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Art Sobczak March 11, 2014 at 10:03 am

Thanks for the comment and kind words, Mike.

Yes, that would make you a star at the event since you’d likely be the only person who is not all about themselves and what they want to sell. As Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

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rick dabagian March 6, 2014 at 9:45 am

It’s incumbent to find out about the individual, what they do, who they are. This is very important when meeting someone for the first time. You never what you may learn in these brief inquiries as people generally like to talk about themselves. This will stand you apart from many others, who pitch as opposed to listening.

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Art Sobczak March 11, 2014 at 10:04 am

Exactly, Rick. True in business and social situations.

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Wesley Linton March 6, 2014 at 10:13 am

Hi Art,
I found this article to be very interesting because it is so true! I too qualify for this same type of script and find that this way of doing things turns out to simply be a numbers game. I am in the wire and cable industry and we are a distributor and specialty manufacturer of all wire and cable products. What I have found from these calls is that yes in business to business prospecting calls the purchasers are usually more friendly when speaking with me as to dealing with the general public but the result is still not as affective as I would like it to be. I get the feeling that they see it as; “well we currently have a relationship with XY&Z so why would I want to make the switch to start buying from your company”? I have recently been trying new approaches where my call is a little bit different. I first look up the company website about us section and try to pre-determine some of the products that I may be competitive in. Once I have some basic information I then call and say something like ” Hi Art, my name is wesley linton with Allied Wire and I did want to introduce myself as your new point of contact moving forward for any of your companies future wire or cable needs. I took some time to check out your website and see that some of the products that you offer are right up our alley. Looking at our history with your company I can see that we have not been doing a great deal of business since your last inquiry on X/X/XX. I just wanted to see if there were any reasons why we have not seen any new opportunities from your team since then. Is it possible that there is a new contact over there, or that we may have lost out on the last opportunity to pricing or availability and got forgotten about? (feel them out and respond accordingly) Now I am sure you must be happy with your current supplier and honestly I would hope that my current customers feel the same way about me, however I would like one more opportunity to work up a sample quote on some of our bread and butter items that you use on a regular basis as a price comparison to show you how competitive we can be. What are some of the regular every day wire or cable products that you currently purchase? Also, is there anythig on your desk right now that I may be able to add to this sample quote?” (take all information they give, if receptive find out competitors and an estimate on how much they spend on wire and cable each year to get an idea of their potential) I have seen better results with this type of a pitch where I bring up some of the items or articles from their website first, request feedback as to why we may have been forgotten about, and then request the opporutnity for another shot. I would really appreciate some feedback on this as I am always looking to polish up wherever I can.

Have a Great Day!

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Art Sobczak March 11, 2014 at 10:09 am

Wesley, yes, you are taking a Smart Calling approach instead of smiling and dialing and pitching. I know what you wrote doesn’t all come out of your mouth without some interaction… I’d tighten that up a bit and create some curiosity and hint at value to get them talking so you can branch to some of the other topics.

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Adrian March 6, 2014 at 10:13 am

I work with both regular accounts and prospects on a daily basis. My company provides software anf consultant services to the construction industry. When I first started working for this firm I was given 100 existing accounts of varying size.

At first I rang up some of them to introduce myself and asked if they were happy with the software they were (or weren’t) using. This sometimes lead to minor sales like upgrades or courses to improve their ability to use the software. However, as I became more familiar with the industry and knew our products better I would call my portfolio and not only ask them about their current software, but rather get to know them both as a company and as people. More often than not this lead to me not only being able to provide them with a more suited product, but also being able to help them in other areas as well. Ever since I made this change I have been the top selling account manager of my team month after month, and my clients often contact me for further advice and will recommend both me and my firm to other people.

I have stopped viewing myself as a sales rep, but more as a consultant, and I find that it’s much easier to sell a solution than a product.

Adrian

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Art Sobczak March 11, 2014 at 10:11 am

Nice work Adrian. As you have demonstrated, you sell more by being interested and helpful. Money naturally flows to perceived value.

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Paul Carroll March 6, 2014 at 10:29 am

I go to SFDC first to see what has been going on, good or bad. Then connect that history with a new topic that is a tie-in: EOL coming, product transistions from where they are, what other customers are seeing in their situation, etc. Maybe self-serving, but this starts at where the customer is at, and isn’t contrived or forced. Just trying to squeeze more value out of the contact/buys/etc that they’ve already invested their time and money in.

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Art Sobczak March 11, 2014 at 10:15 am

Researching a customer so that you can discuss something of individual interest to them is not self-serving, it’s being them-focused, which is the best way to create interest.

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Cy Khormaee March 6, 2014 at 11:03 am

This is a great post that points out a rookie mistake a see many young reps make. It’s important to always look for ways to add values. Every call with a customer should either be a fact finding missions – discovering how you can help them. Or, it should be the delivery of some value. Before a call I’ll always take a look at the most recent industry news. It’s a great way to start a discussion. If you have trouble finding news here’s an automatic platform that will find news for any of your Linkedin Contacts: getcontastic.com

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Art Sobczak March 11, 2014 at 10:17 am

Thanks for sharing, Cy. Interesting service.

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Greg March 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

I think the training manual for these calls also has a chapter suggesting they preface the introduction with a riveting explanation of how the rep covers my {vertical | geographical area | revenue line | product set}.

What response exactly are they expecting?

“Great- I was wondering who my public sector integration specialist for the Rockies was! Thanks for calling.”

Said no one. Ever.

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