The most successful sales professionals are the ones who are not afraid to step outside of their comfort zone. They have the confidence to talk to anyone (regardless of whether or not they actually feel comfortable doing it). If you find yourself holding back from talking to people because it makes you uncomfortable, you should make it a point to start talking to strangers.
What good does it do to talk to strangers? Well for starters, it helps you develop the confidence to talk to anyone in any setting. Moreover, the stranger standing next to you in an elevator could be your next customer. By simply breaking the ice and starting a conversation, you can make a valuable connection. If you start talking to strangers, you’re going to see all sorts of serendipity. You’re going to find people.
Students often ask me how to start up a conversation with a stranger. I think one of the best ways is to ask a funny question. When I’m in an elevator (particularly in a tall building), I’ll often ask the person next to me, “You know what this building needs?” Most people will respond, “What?” And then I say, “A fireman’s pole. Wouldn’t it be great if this building had a fireman’s pole where you just slide right out of here at the end of the day? All the elevators would only have to carry the people up.” Most of the time, this elicits laughter – which is the fastest way to break people out of their comfort zone.
If you can come up with something clever to break the ice, you’ll be able to start a conversation. If the person with whom you’re speaking seems like he or she could benefit in some way from your efficiency solution, you should then be prepared to deliver a great elevator pitch – ideally one that is relevant to that person’s situation. That’s why I always emphasize how important it is that you have more than one elevator pitch up your sleeve. I like to think of it as having a quiver of sharpened arrows. Each elevator pitch is going to resonate with one particular point along your customer continuum.
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