Saturday, November 15, 2008
My late friend and sometime business mentor Bob Smith once
said, “If you want to get a person interested in what you are selling, you have
to get them to ask questions.” If they don’t ask questions, then you know they
won’t call on you for your services. For massage therapists, what you say to a
person is the most important part of selling your service. You have to change
their perceptions about what they think you
offer and convince them that you provide something unique. You have to speak to
them in plain language that also leads them to ask questions. In order to reach
this “pivot point” of selling, there are some basic guidelines to follow when
working a networking mixer.
First, join a local business or social group – be it the
Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, or other association – for at least a year.
Attend their networking events because they offer chances to discover what you
can do for your fellow business owners. What you can do for your fellow business owners? Yes, if you can make
people feel that you are going to help them – rather than the other way around
– you will be way ahead of the competition.
To be most effective at networking events, prepare
appropriately in terms of wardrobe, business cards, and conversational
strategy. Wear a shirt that has your company name/logo on it. If you don’t have
any, for about $99 www.queensboro.com
can make five polo-style shirts with your company name on them. These shirts
draw people’s attention, and when you see them looking you know you have
someone open to conversation. Avoid people who are already in conversations,
and look for people who are moving around and ready to chat.
To help focus your efforts, take only five business cards
with you to the mixer. In a typical one-hour mixer, talking to five people
serves you well by encouraging you to spend quality time with a few
individuals. Trying to meet too many people makes you seem rushed, and you miss
chances to really listen to someone who may need you. After you have passed out
five cards, it is probably time to leave. Don’t stay too long and look like a
buzzard searching for an easy meal.
The final element to prepare involves conversation. Be ready
to answer the question, "What do you do?” Never, ever say that you are a
massage therapist to this perfunctory question. Too often the words “massage
therapist” end the questions, meaning you have lost a potential business
relationship. I like to say that I help people naturally relieve pain and
discomfort. Almost without fail, the person asks, “How?” Now that the listener
is hooked, you can proceed to tell them that you teach people how to relax,
improve health, and relieve pain with techniques practiced for many years.
“Oh,” is usually the response, but it is a positive “oh.” It indicates that you
have tempted – but not yet fully satisfied – their curiosity. At this point,
turn the conversation back to them, so they don’t start forming their own
erroneous opinions of your work. Ask about their work and pay close attention,
because they will recognize your interest and respect you more. After noting
what they do, ask them how often they exercise or if they ever have headaches,
a tight neck, a pulled muscle, or difficulty sleeping. Again, you are trying to
determine how to best help them.
Have you noticed that the words, “massage therapist” have
not yet been uttered? After you give them time to tell you more about
themselves, mention that you are a clinically
trained massage therapist. “Clinically trained" is vital because you
want to exclude any notions that you are just going to rub them down or, even
worse, that you are a sex worker. As you talk, hopefully they will become more
interested in your work. Even if they don’t, as the conversation ebbs thank
them for the nice talk and tell them you will call them soon to see if you can
help each other. As soon as you separate, write as much as you can remember
about them on the back of their business card, noting their exercise habits,
any health issues, and any family information they may have given. If you have
space, jot down what solutions you think will help their problems.
About two days later, with their cards handy, call your
potential clients. Talk to them about specific issues and see if they still
need help with any of their problems. Tell them that you enjoyed hearing about
their work and that you would like to hear more about it when they visit your
office. If they agree, then you are in business. Perhaps only 1 in 5 will
accept your offer, but it’s a start. After a few mixers, you will have built a
good client base that will help you increase your success. Once you are
comfortable with these techniques, you will be amazed at how easy it is to get
people in your door.
Nike Roach is the
president of the 6th Sense Wellness Group, Inc. A Winston-Salem
based health and wellness promotion firm. Nike can be reached at email@example.com or 336-723-4400