While strolling the streets of Boston with my daughter, a rather large man approached us shouting out to listen up. Dressed in less than business attire, he asked if we were sisters. Chuckling to myself, I decided this man had something to share.

Know Your Customer

The grifter started off with charm which predictably overcame any objection to having a conversation. Leaning in to me as the older of the two and presumably the one with more money, he asked if I knew about a well-known local charity. There was a party planned for that evening. Once again, judging from our appearance, he gathered some useful data from a quick glance:

  • We were dressed casually and with quality.
  • We were not in a hurry and not tourists (no maps, cameras, etc.).
  • We would probably know about the charity but not necessarily be aware of any activities.
  • I made eye contact with him and, therefore, likely not ignore him.

Be Confident

All while we chatted, he drew closer to me and was very animated. Demonstrating that he could talk the hind legs off a donkey, he wanted to share his enthusiasm for the charity but more about our willingness to listen. During this part of the exchange, we looked directly at each other with complete sincerity in our eyes.

Make the Pitch Compelling

Of course, no one could dispute the value of the charity and the work done for the community. A big message delivered with few words. He paused allowing the “NEED” to settle into our humanity. Besides, he offered, some people were just not nice about the less fortunate. A guilt card served up but not in an accusing way.

Make the Ask

He said all that was needed were a few dollars to make the event wonderful for the folks served by the charity outreach. A very clear and manageable request.

Acknowledge Your Customer and Express Thanks

I handed him five dollars. He said, “I can give you change”. I said, “No, it’s all yours”. He thanked us profusely and praised the Lord.

My take away from this interchange:

  • You have to know the essentials of a well thought out sales presentation. You need to step the customer through the process.
  • You may have all your slides and handouts ready but you have to make some quick assessments by being aware. Adapt your delivery to the present situation.
  • A lot of information is readily available to a trained salesperson who can switch a point of view to engage the customer. Observe your customer responses and confirm your assumptions.
  • Always, always, be confident.

‘Tis the season for giving. Happy Holidays to you all.