by Bryce Sanders
You work in sales. It might be investments, yachts or real estate.
Perhaps you work in the nonprofit sector on the fundraising side.
All these situations share a common factor: You talk with members of the general public, first turning them into prospects, then clients or donors.
Perhaps you have hit a dry spell. You need a new idea.
News flash! There are no new ideas! However, there are some pretty good older ideas that cycle in and out of favor.
Consider the client–prospect dinner.
It’s simple. You invite a good client to dinner at a nice restaurant. You will be picking up the check. You ask them to bring along a friend, neighbor or co-worker. You want someone in the same economic bracket at the table.
You all have a good time getting to know each other. “What do you do?” obviously comes up in the conversation. Your client’s guest has a good time. They start to like you. People do business with people they like.
Why does the client-prospect dinner strategy work?
One reason it works is your client tells your story ahead of time, effectively pre-selling you to their friend. If you visit your client at their office, it’s highly likely their friend already recognizes your name.
Even if they don’t pre-sell you, the guest may do it for themselves: “This is Charlie’s broker. He must be good. He wouldn’t be introducing me if he’s a loser.”
It also works because business is not discussed over dinner, although you will answer questions if asked. You are learning about one another. Your client might sing your praises, but you aren’t making a pitch for business.
They will ask, “What do you do?” You might answer briefly. They will figure out they can get a balanced opinion from your client, who has already spoken favorably about you.
It works because you are learning about the guest’s interests and family. You will spot commonalities. They will be making their first trip to London soon. You’ve been multiple times. You offer to e-mail them restaurant or hotel recommendations.
They might be golfers. You can see where that can lead.
Under ideal circumstances, they take an interest in doing business and get in touch. You have also identified shared interests in common. This provides a reason to reach out.