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Monday, August 06, 2007

Image from the BYU Humanities Idioms site

Some food for thought

Michael Stone, in his recently published book, Profitable Sales: A Contractor's Guide, puts a new perspective on the "taking the prospective client for lunch" concept. He says if you are in the prospective client's home, and want the business, you should get yourself in the position where YOU are invited for lunch -- or, more accurately, invited to eat something with the clients (could be cookies and milk, or a full dinner, whatever).

The suggestion is that when you are invited to eat, you are accepted as 'a member of the family' -- you are on the inside track to getting the business. Declining the offer of food is not a good idea, he says -- that response suggests you are trying to create a distance from the clients. He says he knows of one salesperson, knowing this situation, did everything he could to get things so the clients would offer him food -- and almost inevitably closed the deal when he accepted the meal offering.

Obviously, this approach works for residential, rather than business-to-business relationships. The closest business parallel would be if you are so trusted as to be invited to your prospective client's private company picnic or event. I can also see interesting parallels at association events and functions; it never hurts to be on a board or committee where some food is served. You are sharing in something beyond the meal.

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