Turn "What's Your Job?" into a Sale

Last Updated Jul 30, 2009 6:44 AM EDT

As I explained in the post "Create an Opportunity in 10 Seconds", you can turn almost any chance meeting into a sales opportunity simply by creating a better response to questions like "What's your job?" or "What do you do for a living?"

The trick is to create a response that's customer-focused, memorable, contains a quantifiable benefit that different from the competition and is socially-acceptable (i.e. doesn't sound like sales pitch or a tag line).

With that in mind, here are some rewrites:

  • Original: "I sell direct mail and print production services. Our flexibility and production capabilities can help your direct mail marketing projects deliver faster."
  • Better: "Our customers get double the response from their direct mail because we create projects that don't look like junk mail."
  • Original: "Our customers have reduced their manufacturing costs using our specialty chemistry. Lower Rejects, reduced energy costs and increased quality are a few of the areas that we can achieved these in."
  • Better: "Customers who use our chemicals reduce their manufacturing costs by 25 percent."
  • Original: Our best clients were frustrated at their inability to get timely access to information within their systems. So, we help bridge the gap by plugging the holes in their current database environment.
  • Better: "Companies hire us to fix database problems that otherwise would cost them millions of dollars."
  • Original: "Well, a few years back we had a number of clients who just wanted to "get on the web." Today, they want to kick it up a notch and add social networking elements, do more sophisticated things with eCommerce and find ways to more finely segment and connect with their customer base.
  • Better: "Companies hire us to help them use the Internet to connect with their own customers, increasing sales by an average of 25 percent."
  • Original: "Our leadership and corporate training has enabled mid- to senior-level managers in Fortune 500 and Chinese mainland firms to acquire western-style management skills. We can do the same for your firm."
  • Better: "Chinese executives hire us to teach them how to manage non-Asian employees and colleagues. More than half credit their subsequent success to our training."
  • Original: "Our company helps organizations primarily in the manufacturing sector staff their open positions on either a full time or project basis. Similarly, we staff the IT, Engineering, and Professional Services sectors, allowing organizations to spend less time and money on recruiting and more time focusing on production."
  • Better: "Manufacturers hire us to recruit elite technical talent that they don't have the contacts to recruit on their own."
  • Original: "We provide businesses with Least Cost Routers that cut down phone bills by at least 30% by transferring land line to mobile phone calls into mobile to mobile calls and vice versa."
  • Better: "My customers can route calls to either their mobile or their landline depending on which is cheaper. Most save an average of 30 percent."
  • Original: "I have my own Health Care Recruiting firm and I specialize in hospital operations, accounting and finance and human resources."
  • Better: "Hospitals hire me to find top quality non-medical personnel, like accountants, that they lack the experience and contacts to find on their own."
In general, the problem with the originals is that they're unmemorable, refer to abstract benefits, and fail to differentiate themselves from other competitive offerings. And they mostly sound too much like marketing gibberish.

BTW, the last message (the one about hospital recruiting) got this comment back from the original sender: "Thank you! It really works - I can say the words without feeling like I'm selling."

That's the idea. To make this technique work, you deliver the message with some finesse. For example, you might shoot self-deprecating grin and say "It's really very cool! Our customers...." and then deliver the line as if you're communicating your excitement as part of a real conversation, rather than just a sales presentation.

Then, if there's some sign of interest, you ask a pre-qualifying question. If not, hey, bring up the weather or the Red Sox. Or just move on. Because it's not a sales opportunity.