Mixing business with pleasure: an interview with the author of 'Kiss Your Customer'

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SA: Should a salesperson’s strategy shift depending on the sex, and sexuality, of a potential client?

AM: I'm sure that during the corporate sales training process, this is never touched on, at least on the record. Though, it is also truly important to know your customer, understand your customer, know what their likes and dislikes are, and what makes them tick. Research shows there are noticeable differences between how buyers of a certain sex make decisions (i.e.—using logic vs. emotion). All knowledge to a salesperson is power... if applied appropriately.
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SA: On a cold call—whether walking into a foreign office, calling a company, or approaching a woman at a bar—what kind of opener do you suggest for breaking through the target’s initial walls of resistance?

AM: According to a survey conducted by It’s Just Lunch dating service, 47% of U.S. women are turned off by men talking about themselves and not paying attention to their dates. (So, I suppose the other 53% don’t mind?) Nevertheless, whether in business or dating, people don’t want to be sold to. They want to be listened to.

This principle was crystallized by one of the single-greatest sales training movies ever made: 40-Year Old Virgin. That golden piece of dating advice was to ‘Just keep asking her questions.’ It’s the easiest method, and also the most effective.

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SA: Emailing a sales pitch or press release to a potential client is comparable to a guy emailing an attractive woman on a dating site. How does one set themselves apart from the hundreds of other nice, but ultimately forgettable, emails?

AM: First, I love the recognition of yet another eerie similarity between sales and dating. I've tried to master both of these types of emails! I think the similarity in both is to make them more light and conversational, and using humor especially on the dating side—vs. a more "serious and professional" hard sell approach. You'd be surprised how many business emails of mine have begun with "Hi, Steve... I hope all is well up in Buffalo. Sorry about the Bills disappointing season! I wanted to just drop you a quick line about..." Ease of conversation is extremely important to solicit a response!
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SA: Many pick-up guides claim it is better to wear something ridiculous like a sombrero to set yourself apart. Do you ever suggest sales strategies that seem childish, clownish, or counterintuitive?

AM: If you're selling party supplies—Sure! If you're selling financial products—Ouch! Point taken, though—we must stand out from the crowd. Please, no more bland business cards. No more squirt bottles. No more thermal mugs with your company logo. Despite what you might believe, people don’t want to see “Ed’s Manure Hauling” every morning when they drink their coffee (Sorry, Ed). Give them an item with their company logo. Give them a baseball with their kid’s favorite baseball team on it. Bring them something that’s going to help their business. What clever or personalized item would make that client go “Wow!”?

There was an ad agency rep from Chicago who had been trying desperately to get business with a top prospect. In a final attempt, she sent one baby booty in a tube along with a note which read: “Now that I have one foot in the door, I’d love to get the other one in, too.' Cheesy? Yes. Did it work? Yes.

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SA: In many business situations, salespeople play the traditional role of men who must approach and romance potential partners. Other than having a product that is in high demand, how can a salesperson turn the tables and get potential clients to fight for the salesperson’s attention.

AM: People want to buy from experts who can truly help them, not salespeople. People trust those with information which can help them solve problems. Therefore, what article would your customer read? What blog would your customer ask questions on? What seminar would your customer attend? When people search for solutions about the product or service which you provide, customers should find you. Immediately, and consistently. It’s called transforming yourself from a salesperson or company to an expert through personal branding. Then they will find you.
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SA: In seduction and in sales, it is important to appear confident without appearing aggressive. How do you reach this balance?

AM: There's no golden rule here, it simply comes down to commonsense and, of course, stalking laws. It is a challenge. For instance, surveys repeatedly confirm that women are turned-off by aggressive men. Surveys repeatedly confirm that customers are turned-off by aggressive salespeople. However, men are repeatedly advised by friends to “Get out there and be aggressive!” Salespeople are repeatedly advised by managers to “Get out there and be aggressive!” Sounds like a bit of a quandary to me.

My one piece of advice is always have a reason to call or email someone back, or to stop by their office again—rather than constantly 'Did you make a decision yet?' 'Did you make a decision yet?' 'Did you make a decision yet?' Try an email such as "Hey, I saw this great article in Entrepreneur magazine and thought of you (attach link). Of course, please keep me posted..." or, "Hey, I just wanted to pass along this great review our company just received from a business owner in the same industry as you. Of course, please keep me posted..."

Follow Alfie on Twitter or Facebook and email him if interested in writing about Sex & Love

In Kiss Your Customer: 77 Reasons Why Sales & Service Are Just Like Dating & Relationships, Andy Masters explores how strategies for romancing a love interest can also be used to charm a client.

Shawn Alff: How important is actual seduction and appealing to a potential client’s carnal side when trying to close a deal? Ethically speaking, where should salespeople draw the line when using their sex appeal to get ahead in business?

Andy Masters: There certainly is an ethical line to be drawn when it comes to seduction and sales. And it has become even more dangerous to cross this line in the last decade or two with sexual harassment lawsuits, political correctness, and even outlets such as social media and search engines—in which inappropriate activity can be blasted all across the Internet for future clients or companies to see. With that being said, there's a reason why many sales reps across many, many industries just "happen" to be many of our most attractive people in society. We, as consumers and buyers, are often more welcoming to attractive people. Interestingly, I have spoken with more than one very attractive female salesperson who intentionally don't dress provocatively, or even do their hair up, because they want to prove their success through merit, not because they are hot.

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