Cellphones, e-mail and virtual meetings have made it easier to contact prospects and clients, but they’ve also made it harder to connect in a deep meaningful way. So says Richard Abraham in his book Mr. Shmooze: The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships.In our quest to provide faster, better information, says Abraham, we’ve lost sight of the fact that people are people, not computers. And our emotions drive transactions.
“Shmoozing is all about interacting with people in a way that creates feelings of warmth, goodwill and pleasure,” says Abraham. “People want to do business with you because you make them feel good about the relationship and about themselves.”
In Mr. Shmooze, Abraham offers strategies to help you become an expert schmoozer. Here are four of them:
- Figure out what really matters to your prospect
It usually has nothing to do with the business at hand. Look for clues in the photos or books in her office or listen for verbal cues in your casual conversations.
- Capitalize on the opportunity to enter the prospect’s emotional world
If you discover that your client loves Thai cooking or Afghan hounds, for example, you can e-mail her a link to an Asian recipe website or send her a book on exotic dog breeds you found on clearance at the bookstore. These small gestures can make a big difference. “I have a colleague who called on a prospect who happened to be a huge Chicago Cubs fan,” says Abraham. “After my colleague left the meeting he happened to walk by a store with a Cubs tie in the window. Naturally, he bought it and overnighted it to the prospect. It’s very likely that that $20 expenditure, plus postage, won him the account.”
- Follow-up immediately
Studies show that prospects will forget 90% of what you spoke about in a meeting within one week; in fact, says Abraham, much information is forgotten within 24 hours. But if you send someone a book or a recipe the very next day, you go a long way toward overcoming that effect. “Plus, if you make it standard procedure to do your follow-up right away, you won’t forget to do it.”
- Don’t limit your shmoozing to “people who matter”
Make it a practice to schmooze everyone, not just potential clients. As Abraham explains, “You can’t build goodwill with too many people.”