Networking Tip: Pushing the Pushers

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Selling ourselves and our brand is all about presentation. Sometimes this means giving a speech in front of a crowd of interested parties, other times it calls for a cold sell to someone you’ve met mere minutes ago. While the art of selling is a great ability to have, there are those that take the effort too far during networking situations. In conversations, they are extremely pushy, refusing to let you get a word in. In front of groups, all they can talk about is how wonderful their brand is. Though these individuals can’t be avoided,  here’s the first networking tip so they can be out maneuvered so long as you know how to approach the situation.

Listen

Immediately brushing a pushy salesperson aside can swiftly open up the door to unwanted return visits. They’ll mark you as possibly interested until they get to explain the entire scenario. In order to keep your time with them to a minimum, listen to the pitch the first time. Worst case scenario, you don’t like their brand. At this point, feel free to hand them a firm “no” and be on your way. In many cases, this will get the person to move on, as they don’t want to waste their own time, either. This is because, to them, the pitch is everything. If it can’t convince you, nothing else will.

The only time you should feel free to immediately stop the pitch is if you know it’s a product you do not nor will ever need. A coffee shop owner, for instance, would find no reason to ever purchase a fancy line of staplers, so why even waste time listening to such a spiel? During this type of situation, cut the individual off immediately, explain why you don’t need to hear anymore and feel free to move on. They’ll appreciate your honesty and respect for both of your schedules.

Exchange Information

If, during this networking event, you are strapped for time, it’s far more advantageous to get around to as many people as possible rather than get bogged down with a pusher that won’t take “no” for an answer. If you’ve found yourself stuck, ask for their business card and feel free to hand yours over as well. This will offer the potential of further communication outside of the event so both of you can go on to take further advantage of the event. For salesman, this means a possible avenue. For you, this means offering a better venue to hear the sales pitch at, one where there are no time limits.

Remember that once you are in the virtual arena, you exert a bit more power over the conversation. If you never want to deal with the email address again, block it or delete the email. If there’s a bit of interest, you’ll have time to read an email with all the information you need to make an informed decision. While it still may end up that there’s no interest on your end, moving conversation to a more personal level is appreciated by any brand.

Cut the Act

If you’ve ever had to sell anything, you understand that pitches are typically rehearsed and memorized down to the last punctuation mark. This preparation shines through the pasted on smiles of someone that has set their sights on you. Before they launch into the extended version of their product’s praise, catch them off guard. Joke about seeing how they’re ready to start their spiel. Remark on how prepared they look to perform what they’ve rehearsed for so long. This typically forces the salesperson to break character, leading to a real conversation rather than a canned stint.

Knocking them out of their rhythm my sound negative, but it’s a tactic that doesn’t have to end up in bruised egos or hurt feelings. If you are genuinely interested in the brand itself, getting them to drop the sales routine is the quickest way to have a serious discussion without all the fluff. You’ll get the answers you need, they’ll get to talk about what they want to talk about and no one’s time will be wasted as they try and hook you in with an obvious charade.

Use it to Your Advantage

At the end of the day, the pushy salesman needs to make sales in order to have made a success out of the networking event. Whether it’s a definite deal on the floor or bringing back an enormous collection of business cards to the office, these individuals are severely goal oriented, putting up blinders to virtually every social cue. Instead of trying to evade an insistence that will quickly overpower your passive avoidance, use it to your advantage. They sell something you might want. So do their competitors. How can they make their offer more enticing? Poke and prod to see just what kind of a deal you can strike.

Never be against window shopping. Typically, there will be four to five other brands selling similar products with each offering their own pros and cons. Be sure to spend some time perusing the various sellers to build a list of options being offered to you. Then, bring the offers around to the other brands to see just how far each company is willing to go to match the other. They can also help you pinpoint cons about one another that would not have seemed obvious to you at the start.

Salespeople can’t be faulted for wanting to grow their brand. It’s a desire each one of us has. Unfortunately, this means there are quite a few that willingly ignore societal cues in order to get one step closer toward making a sale. If you find yourself up against one of these pushy individuals at your next networking function, do what you can to make the most of the situation. Just because they’re annoying doesn’t always mean they should be ignored.