Tuesday, 9 June 2009

'Life is Like a Box of Chocolates’
Forrest Gump

Selling your Service, Product or Idea is Like Serving a Three Course Meal’
Malcolm Levene

Being highly tuned to other people’s behaviours, values and attitudes, puts us at a great advantage as it relates to engaging and building rapport with clients. One of my early coaching clients, the Head of Research for a prominent City bank, was having some challenges convincing his team and his boss to buy into a new strategy he thought would boost sales. When I discussed this with him, I became convinced his idea was sound and likely to pay off. So I asked him to role play the meetings that he’d had with his team and boss to help me to identify why they didn’t buy into his story.

After a few attempts, we got to the bottom of what he had done that prevented him nailing it. His opening pitch was rushed and not entirely clear. The nub of his presentation was good; however, he came across as dogmatic and a bit egotistic. The way he ended his presentation was abrupt and there seemed no room for debate. We worked on how he could set up another meeting that would be more likely to achieve the outcome he desired. I wanted him to keep the next presentation as simple as possible. Therefore, I developed a strategy that I felt would enable him to better sell his story to one and all.

As many of you will recognize, knowing something personal about your client is important. It's one of the best ways to bring about amenability. Now, I knew that my client was a foodie, so I suggested he treated his second pitch as one might a sumptuous meal. I asked him to visualize a tantalizing starter, something to awaken the taste buds, a delicious main course, a dish that would satisfy the most discerning epicurean, and a dessert that would leave everyone with a sweet after taste. Here are the ingredients of each course he served to this group:

Starter – Energy, enthusiasm, passion and positive body language. Appropriate breaks so that his guests had time to digest and savour his proposal. He added the right proportion of seasoning, like humour and personality, to pique the curiosity of everyone so that they’d become more alert to his pitch.

Main Course – A robust explanation as to why and how his idea would work, what was in it for the business and those present. He asked for feedback and made a point of acknowledging everyone’s point of view. He smiled lots, was open and receptive. He expressed a strong desire to engage and was able to build rapport, which made everyone feel included. He paid attention to anyone who left anything ‘on their plate’; ensuring that any doubts or uncertainties were addressed and dealt with. If anyone expressed a desire for a 'second helping', or wanted more, he took this to mean that everyone had enjoyed what they consumed.

Dessert – A sweet ending. Here, for some, is the favourite part of any meal or should I say deal. The main job here is to leave each guest buzzing, the kind of feeling you get after a sugary dessert. I don’t mean sugary as in false or too sweet. I’m referring to being left with feelings that are both upbeat and satisfying. This means ending on a high note. Something that leaves the guests wanting to come back for another 'meal' because one has provided a well prepared menu that was mouth wateringly delicious and presented with professional aplomb.

Coffee - In closing, he made sure he said something uplifting, so that everyone left feeling enthusiastic and optimistic.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Liked the food analogy Malcolm!