One question I am routinely asked when it comes to brand building is: “Just how much self-promotion should I use when speaking to current or potential clients?”
The answer is “not much.”
This may surprise most, but it is crucial to having productive conversations that ultimately lead to sales.
Believe it or not, you can tie your product or services into most conversations without it coming across as a crude or a blatant sales pitch. When you really know how to orchestrate a conversation, with your business subtly included, there’s no reason to beat your audience over the head with your standard advertising rigmarole.
Of course, as entrepreneurs, we always have that instinct to sell ourselves whenever we can, to make a pitch at every networking event. But you need to muzzle that little interior voice that screams, “Sell, sell, sell!” and focus on each individual conversation in order to get the most out of it.
As you do, try to keep these tips and strategies in mind.
1. Forget the direct sale.
Never approach a conversation with direct sales in mind. If you do this, you are no better than those annoying spam e-mails that pop up in your inbox, uninvited and irritating.
2. Never speak ill of the competition.
Be sure that you never speak ill of your competitors. Life is full of irony; there’s a good chance that someone you end up speaking with may know one of your competitors personally.
3. Endeavor to solve problems.
If, in the course of conversation, someone brings up an issue that you believe your service or product can help solve, it is okay to mention it. However, a brief mention and a full-out sales blast are two different things. Give the other party the bait and see how hard they nibble. If it isn’t much, let it rest and then remind them of your service at the end of the conversation.
4. Learn more about people’s needs.
If you use the words “me,” “my,” or “I” more than ten times in a three minute conversation, your focus is all wrong. When speaking to people that are potentially in your target audience, you need to be learning more about their needs and how they can better be served.
5. Focus on them, not yourself.
In the event that your conversation is with someone that has used your products or services and is giving you rave reviews, try to deflect the topic to how you are glad that their situation has improved. Make the conversation about them and not your product.
As any lawyer or car salesperson might tell you, there is an art to conversation. In business, knowing these basic tricks and keeping the focus on how you can improve the conditions of others rather than yourself can lead to significant results.
Bobby Marhamat, a branding expert, is the founder and CEO of readyBUZZ, a collaborative social media marketing agency. Bobby has always been an entrepreneur at heart. He has helped Fortune 500 companies and small business owners look at different ways to make more money by unifying their brand and creating a niche within their target market.