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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

The Perfectly Legitimate Business Case for Taking Selfies

It's one of the fastest and easiest ways to build a better relationship with a contact or customer.
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Everyone knows that conferences, trade shows, and seminars are great places to make new business contacts, meet existing customers in person, and find new potential customers. Indeed, those are the reasons that such events exist.

Let's suppose you're at an event and you have a great conversation with a customer. You want keep in touch and follow up to have a conversation that's more substantial, so you trade business cards, right?

That's fine, but a business card is just, well, a piece of cardboard. Here's a better approach: Capture the essence of the connection and the moment with a selfie--one that includes you and other person. Here's how it's done:

  1. Ask with enthusiasm. "This has been really fun talking to you. Hey, can I take a photo of us together?" Hold up your phone up as you ask. If the answer is no, no problem. Most of the time, though, the answer will be yes.
  2. Get close together. Because you're both going to be in the same picture, you'll need to get closer, maybe with arms over each other's shoulder. That's a good thing, because that's what people who like each other do sometimes.
  3. Get them to smile. You want to capture the positive aspects of the conversation, not an accidental scowl. You can use the old standby "Say cheese!" I use "Say Camembert!" because it makes people laugh.
  4. Get their phone number. Ask, "Would you like me to text you a copy?" The answer will almost always be "Sure," so now you've gotten the contact's personal cell number (which isn't always on their business card).
  5. Enhance, crop, and send. After the meeting, when you've got some time to yourself, use the built-in functions of your phone to make the photo look as good as possible, crop it so it's just you and the contact, and text it. Chances are, you'll get a "Thanks" text in return. Or even a call.

Consider what you've accomplished. You have:

  • Gotten a "yes"
  • Made physical contact beyond handshaking
  • Created a visual reminder of the conversation
  • Gotten another "yes"
  • Obtained the contact's personal phone number
  • Made certain your contact information is stored on the contact's phone
  • Reminded the contact of the conversation
  • Opened a dialog

That's a LOT of relationship building (and selling) crammed into 30 seconds. As a bonus, you've also captured an image of the contact's face, so YOU can more easily remember whom you talked to.

Cool, eh?

BTW, I learned this technique from my good friend David Rotman, a sales executive at Rotmans, which is New England's largest furniture and carpet store. He recently won a "best new idea" award from a furniture industry association for his use of selfies in retail sales.

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Last updated: Apr 24, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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