April 15, 2014


For the sweetest deal in real estate, call me!
Part way through a coffee meeting, a real estate agent gave me a tiny box the size of a business card and the thickness of a deck of cards.

The page on top was more like photocopier stock than card stock.
It had two messages:
  • “For the sweetest deal in real estate, call me!” and
  • “Oh, by the way … I’m never too busy for any of your referrals!”
One business card was taped underneath. Below that was a small box that held three small football-shaped Lindt chocolates that looked nothing like the photo.

What Effect?

The agent’s intentions were good but was this approach effective?

Virtually anyone can use the same message: “For the sweetest deal in (fill in the blank), call me!” and who would refuse referrals?

If you get the sweetest deal, doesn’t the other side gets the bitterest deal? Maybe a sweet deal is better and leads to less cavities.

The Perfect Gift

The perfect gift is significant, personalized and unexpected, according to Robert Cialdini. Does chocolate qualify?
  • significant? No since we have lots of chocolate at home. Besides, I got a normal box of Lindt truffles at another event.
  • personalized? Partially since my name was added to a pre-printed sheet. I would have preferred a fully handwritten card.
  • unexpected? No since I saw the box the whole time and knew the purpose (best to hide it)
The chocolate was probably on sale at the nearby Lindt Factory Outlet. I paid for our coffees, which probably cost more. Also, I was spending something much more valuable, my irreplaceable time. I felt let down at what looked more like unsubtle manipulation than generosity.

The Ask

A tiny box of chocolates from an outlet is cheap. Real estate is expensive. How does one small gift lead to a big commission? Repetition helps but are we likely going to get chocolate on a regular basis. Do we even want more?

Besides, there are lots of real estate agents that look interchangeable. How do you pick one? Chocolate gives no indication of skill (e.g., in negotiating).

A Better Approach

Timely ongoing information makes a much more useful gift. The content could be about the area of specialty, real estate. Not the generic articles that come with the junk mail every month. But something original that shows a genuine desire and ability to help prospects. The value and name recognition builds with consistency.

Emailing information via a newsletter allows tracking and cost-effective scaling. Buying and delivering chocolate does not.

Standing Out

We've dealt with real estate agents for ages. Not a single gave such a small gift. Not a single one gave useful ongoing information either. There's an opportunity to stand out.

Asking for a referral when giving the chocolate is bold — too bold for a first meeting. Would small bait land a big referral?

How was the chocolate? I don't know. I gave it to a child who might appreciate something that small.


PS Another gift, is paying attention to what your clients are doing and helping them succeed.

April 9, 2014


baseball - cancel a pitch?You’re ready for your important meeting. You arrived early. You dressed well. You printed the slides in case their projector doesn’t work. You have your presentation on a memory stick and your computer. You’ve got nice packages to leave behind. You practiced and practiced. They expressed interest in what you offer.
Then things start going wrong.

The meeting starts late. Some of the planned group don’t attend even though they are in the department. The ones who do show up seem distracted. What do you do?

Keep Calm and Carry On?

It's tempting to push ahead. After all, you’re ready. They need your help. Your presentation is powerful. They’re bound to be swayed and able to convince the decision makers who aren’t there. Maybe … but you're taking a big risk. You can't tell how receptive they are because you don't know what else is going on in their heads.

If you're giving a pitch and they're not listening, stop.

You gain little by continuing. Maybe they never really wanted to see you. If they agreed to meet, that seems unlikely because their time is valuable. It’s more likely that something unexpected happened.
We can't tell what's going on in someone's life. There could be a personal emergency or a work crisis. You don't know. Maybe they decided to buy from someone else.

Another Time

They may tell you to proceed anyway and ask for handouts for the ones who aren’t there. Is complying in your best interest? You risk diluting your impact.

Consider rescheduling. This is difficult if you flew in from another city but easy if you're local. Yes, you wasted your travel time but you’re giving them a valuable gift: unexpected free time. You invoke reciprocity, the #1 universal principle of influence. They’ll likely agree to meet again. They may even reveal why they’re unprepared at the moment.

By rescheduling, you show that you’re observant, generous and considerate. Isn't that the sort of person they want to do business with?

Next Time

What will you do differently next time? If potential clients tend get distracted by the bustle in their office, pick a different location. If they get answer each phone call, pick a quieter time. When they're out of their environment and deviating from their normal routine, you have a better chance at their attention.

When do you get the best results in business meetings? Maybe mornings early in the week beat afternoons late in the week. If you're not able to schedule a meeting at an optimal time, maybe you're better off waiting until you can. If they're busy in the morning, how about meeting for breakfast before their normal day starts?


PS By rescheduling, you gain free time too. Maybe you beat the traffic back. And get an idea for a blog post.