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Stop Bait & Switch Selling

Stop Bait & Switch Selling

Bait and switch, misleading customers, savvy sales tip, transparency, relationship selling

A sure fire way to ruin a relationship is by misleading someone.  Whether you fib to your partner, your boss, your best friend or to your client, the relationship will suffer and may even be damaged beyond repair.

Misleading clients in marketing and in sales is known as bait and switch. Many times bait and switch refers to a company advertising a “deal” and luring customers into their place of business only to be told the “deal” is no longer available.

However, there’s another form of bait and switch I’ve encountered quite a few times over the last few months and it’s damaging relationships and ruining reputations.

The bait and switch I’m referring too is when someone asks to meet to discuss an agreed upon topic only to spend the whole meeting “selling” you on their product/service.

Launching into a pitch without taking the time to get permission, build rapport and show respect to your client is rarely an effective selling technique.

This is a common mis-step in many of the networking groups I participate in. One of my readers reached out and specifically requested I write an article about it to help bring awareness to those who may not understand the damage they’re doing to their reputation. She wrote up her experience and asked me to share it.  You’ll see it below in example 2.

Here are 2 examples of bait and switch:

Example 1: A few months back a woman contacted me through my business Facebook page, and asked if we could schedule a time to chat about how I might help her with her sales. We both participate in the same networking group. When we got on the phone and I asked her to share a little about her business and how I might help her, she launched into a sales pitch for her product. When I asked her again, what she had in mind in regards too us working together, she said she thought her product would be a good fit for my business. In the end, she wanted to “sell” me, and in order to get me on the phone, she misled me by acting as if she was interested in becoming a client. Needless to say, I felt lied to and her lack of integrity was a complete turn off. She has zero chance of getting my business and I certainly would not recommend her or her product to anyone I know.

Example 2: Written by C.J., a reader of Sales Maven’s blog: “Recently I made contact with a lovely woman at a networking event. She offers a (non-MLM) service that I may be able to use periodically for my clients, so we discussed that specifically and exchanged cards. The next day she sent me a very nice thank-you email and suggested we meet for coffee. I replied that my schedule is quite busy and I would be happy to schedule coffee when we have a specific project to discuss.

She replied with a (not very well disguised) MLM pitch. Not only was this message unwelcome and unexpected (it came in at 6:30pm on a Saturday night!), but it contained multiple grammar mistakes. It read:

‘I was just hoping to get to know you better.  I also want to make sure you know how [MLM company] added to your program for marketing it a top notch way to make things easier for you and your clients.  Let’s talk about that over the phone sometime soon.  If you have thought about it before and eliminated it, now it is different as it can be set up so it [MLM company] is branded for the company.  It is the easiest way to stay front in mind for clients along with being inexpensive.  This is a service that I provide for my clients who want to keep in contact easily.’

I simply replied and told her I’m not interested. Her response was ‘I just was sharing that I use it as one way to stay in contact with clients.’

Springing an unwelcome, poorly-written copy-and-pasted MLM sales pitch is not ‘sharing.’ It is intrusive. Especially on a Saturday night. My first impression of this woman was positive, but after this exchange, I will unfortunately be making an effort to keep my distance.”

I have no idea if this is how companies are advising their sales people to book appointments or get conversations going, however, as you see above, it’s not working. When someone’s first impression is, “you’re a lovely person” and her next impression is, “I’ll be making an effort to keep my distance,” you’ve ruined your reputation and damaged the relationship.

Your Savvy Sales Tip this week: Be transparent regarding your intentions when setting up a meeting with a prospective client.

relationship selling, bait and switch, techniques for client meetings

Your integrity and honesty will be appreciated. And if by being honest, a person declines to meet with you, then you’ve saved yourself time and effort to focus on clients in need of your product/service.

To be clear, you can bring up your business/product/service during a meeting when appropriate. Wait for the right time and do it with respect for the other person/people in the meeting.

Here’s a possible language suggestion on broaching the topic of your business during a meeting:

“I know the purpose of the meeting is to discuss XYZ and I’m looking forward to it. As you may or may not know, one of the things I do is customer experience assessments. Knowing you meet with clients and give quite a few presentations regarding your product, this might be something you’d benefit from. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d be happy to chat with you at the end of our meeting or set up another time to discuss it. You let me know if that’s something you’d like more information on.”

Then you wait and see what the other person says. If they say they’re interested, then you set up a time to chat about it.

If they say they’ll let you know, then turn the discussion back to the original topic of the meeting. You might follow up a few days later and check to see if they’d like to schedule a time to discuss a customer experience assessment (insert your product/service in place of customer experience assessment).

By getting the permission of the other person to share about your product/service, they’ll be much more open to listening and considering your offer.

You keep the rapport in tact and your reputation solid.

Wishing you a successful sale week!

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