The Science of the Sale. The Art of Lunch.


By Jeffrey Gitomer



A great meeting starts with a detailed plan.

Let’s do lunch! Well, OK, but let’s do lunch the right way.

Too often, salespeople think that getting a lunch appointment is the victory, and don’t concentrate on building rapport and the relationship to ultimately make the sale. Big mistake.

Even more often, companies and (cheap) managers will not reimburse salespeople for lunchtime meetings. Bigger mistake.

But most often, when a company refuses to pay for lunches, the salesperson won’t invest his or her own money to build a relationship and make a sale. Biggest mistake.

REALITY: In sales, you don’t succeed for the company. In sales, you succeed for yourself.

So much for philosophy. Let’s get down to the meat. The lunch meat. Let’s say you get the appointment. Now what do you do? How do you plan? How do you impress? How do you relate? How do you build the relationship? And most important—how do you make the sale?

Here’s my menu of secret recipes for lunch success:

• Picking them up is preferable to meeting them there. This gives you extra schmooze time on the way there, and more sell time on the way back.

• Eat at the right place. If you have a GREAT place and you are sure they like that type of food, go there—otherwise, go to THEIR favorite place. Make sure it’s a place you can talk—lots of space, quiet enough to converse, and somewhat private.

• Pay in advance, or slip your credit card to the server at the start and tell him or her to just bring you the processed bill when you signal. Tip 20 percent. Don’t be a tightwad.

• Say the right things. Keep talk small at first—about lunch, about their interests, about how they got started. More “them,” less “you.”

• Remember all the things your mother taught you and pounded into you. Make her proud. Turn your cell phone OFF. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Etc.

• Impress and impressions. Don’t fuss about anything—be polite even if the service sucks and the food is bad.

• Remember all the things your mother taught you and pounded into you. Make her proud. Turn your cell phone OFF. Don’t talk with your mouth full. You know what to do.

• Greet others, make it brief. If you see someone you know, be sure to say hi, introduce the person as “my new customer” or “friend.”

• Talk business when they bring it up. When do you start talking business? When they do—not before.

• Ask thought-provoking questions about them. Who are they trying to do business with? Maybe you can make a connection.

• Keep the talk positve. Besides teaching you manners, your mother said, “If you have nothing nice to say about some-one, say nothing.” Do not violate this rule. Ever.

• Be funny, but don’t tell jokes. Jokes are the worst and lowest form of humor. Especially if they are in poor taste. And double especially if the other person has heard it before. Both scenarios make you look foolish.

• The more they talk, the more they will like you. So ask about food, travel or eating out. Ask about vacation. Ask about sports. Notice with each of those that did not say “tell about.”

• Find the link. Use your time to discover what you have in common. Things that will bring you to a closer mutual belief system. Closer to a sale.

• Be yourself, unless you’re a slob. If you have to fake it at lunch, the rest of the relationship will have to follow the falsehood. And worse, you’ll have to remember who you’re trying to be each time you get back together.

• Friendly beats professional. You’re having lunch with a potential or existing business friend. Be friendly.

• Understated beats bragging. You don’t have to say how great you are, you have to prove it. And don’t show off, be impressive. Give the prospect a chance to shine. Make them ask about you.

• Stick to the objective. If you’re there to make a sale, bring a contract and a pen. If you’re there to get to the next step in the sales cycle, make a firm appointment or you have failed lunch.

• Make the next appointment firm, no matter what, even if you pencil a time and place to be confirmed later. FIRM.

• Want another lunch? Offer to bring a prospect for them next time—it’s a 100 percent guarantee of a date.

• Send a follow-up with something personal right away. Take a selfie with you and the prospect, and send an Ace of Sales e-mail (aceofsales.com) as you’re leaving. Make the WOW carry forward to the next meeting.

There you have it. The recipe for lunch success. All you have to add is you and a prospect. You only have one chance. Make it a biggie.

About the author

Jeffrey Gitomer is author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Red Book of Sales Answers.
P     | 704.333.1112
E     | salesman@gitomer.com