Money Can’t Buy You Lunch

In the old days, the business lunch was a staple and a commonly used method of developing relationships, treating a customer, and enjoying a meal on the company’s nickel. These days, money can’t buy you lunch as customers have adopted a strict policy of shunning any and all activities that give the impression of favoritism towards one particular vendor. It’s an overreaction to Wall Street’s financial shenanigans over the last few years.

Or, maybe it’s just about the calories.

Whatever the motivation, it’s up to the creative salesperson to find a way to accomplish the goal of strengthening the bond with a customer that doesn’t include menus, martinis and expense reports.

No golf? No gifts? Come on! Lighten up, Francis.

To further complicate the issue, we get less face time with our clients than ever. We can no longer simply drop by (the doors are locked) and schmooze with the receptionist (laid off). As a result, everything from proofing to basic communication takes on a less personal approach.

OK, so I can’t buy you lunch. There must be a way for us to get to know each other and strengthen the buyer-seller relationship. It’s almost as if we’ve become pen pals.

As I think about my own job, I can relate. After all, I don’t get to meet 99 percent of my coaching clients, but that hasn’t stopped me from forging some pretty strong bonds.

Once again, as with many things in life, the answer comes down—or should I say back—to the fundamentals. In this case, that means taking advantage of the lightning-quick opportunities to build relationships through conversation, be it via email or voice, and then keeping track of what was said so that the next conversation can pick up where this one left off. After you have learned what’s important to a customer, you can look for ways to say, “I care!”

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • Paperguru

    I’ve worked as a paper buyer for a print company. My experience is that the salesmen who want to schmooze are only good for that. If you want someone who will come through in a pinch, find the guy who gives good service and who serves up education about the product and industry as a matter of course. The schmoozers just want a PO and nothing else.

  • Patrick

    Spot on with this piece of today’s insight !