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The most common mistake in sales

A Babe, Bespoke Suit and Complimentary Brewski

April 1, 2015
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Every year, I splurge on at least one new suit. And given my somewhat lanky frame, buying off the rack is not an option. I have to get a custom one made – which as you can imagine is quite an expensive purchase. But, looking good = feeling good… so I don’t mind forking out some bucks.

On my last suit purchase, I decided to try out a new tailor. They came highly recommended from a friend, and were conveniently located in a nearby high rise, unlike my regular tailor who is across town where all the hipsters hang out.

Arriving at the tailor’s office, I was impressed. It screamed class, and the secretary who greeted me was easy on the eyes and very polite. Great, I thought. I made a good choice coming here.

Shortly after drinking my coffee brought out by the secretary, the tailor came into the foyer and greeted me. “When you’re ready, follow me” he said. Going into his office, I saw the finest suit jackets and materials hanging all over the walls. The office had a stunning view of the water, and the tailor even offered me a beer before we got started. How can you beat that?

Spending about an hour with the tailor, the whole process was first-class. He took his time, never once checking his watch. While sipping on my complimentary brewski (he was drinking one too, by the way), we went through dozens of different types of cloth and colors. It was just a total chill experience… one of a kind.

Once finished, the tailor walked me out of his office where I was  again met by the attractive secretary. She asked me how it went, and I told her it was great. She walked me toward her desk to pay the bill, and that’s when the whole experience turned negative…

Almost immediately after authorizing the payment, the secretary went into sales mode. She made a crucial sales mistake by asking me if there was anyone I would recommend she get in contact with that would appreciate a custom suit. Of course, I know several people who appreciate the value of a new suit, but I’m not going to give her their contact info. These people are busy with their day to day, and likely don’t want to be solicited by a stranger for a new suit. And most importantly, I just paid for a fitting and new suit. I hadn’t even seen the finished product! I wouldn’t recommend a couple thousand dollar suit to my friends without even seeing and wearing the product myself.

She was premature, and out of line with this sales strategy.

I appreciate the woman’s enthusiasm for drumming up future business, but that wasn’t the time, nor the strategy in building a business based on referrals

Referrals are built because third parties recommend your work, on their own accord. A business built on referrals is not accomplished by you getting access to someone’s phone book and dialing for dollars. That’s cheesy, and pushy. Not to mention the fact that it makes the person you just sold to feel as though their business isn’t appreciated. Also, this tailor is in the business of selling clothes… the best way to build a business in wearables is to make outfits that people want to wear! Once they wear it, they’re practically walking billboards for your brand. If the outfit looks slick, their friends and colleagues will likely ask them where they got it… and they’ll gladly tell.

If you want to be great at sales, build relationships over time, and let the quality of your product sell itself. If your customers are happy, they’ll gladly refer their friends to your business. It is human nature. Conversational currency in the real world is about recommending things for your friends to make their lives better. More often than not, that involves telling your friends where to buy something, eat, travel, or get great service.

Regrettably, I’m dreading going back to the tailor. Not because I don’t like the product, but because I don’t want to be hounded. The moment you ask for contact information of your client’s friends and network, you’ve crossed a line in sales etiquette that is viewed as unprofessional and annoying. Never make this fatal sales mistake.

Stay hungry,

Aaron Hoddinott signature

 

 

Aaron

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Like all of you entrepreneurs and investors out there, Aaron has been in the trenches. He is the founder of an influential online media and PR company. From oil wildcatters to mining prospectors, tech gurus to medical doctors, and even celebrities, Aaron has helped market and expand brand awareness for a diverse range of publicly traded companies ran by entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

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