The Naked Truth About Strip Clubs, Adult Entertainment, and YOU!

Entertaining your clients can be both fun and productive.  It can be used as a tool to strengthen relationships, and at the very least increase your familiarity with the customer’s key people.  Used incorrectly, it can reveal things, right or wrong, about you and or your company in regard to your class, morals, and standing that will be indelibly etched in your customer’s and co-employee’s memory.

Be Smart and Practical

In the universe of entertainment options your choices should be safe and time proven.  Fine dining, spectator-sporting events, golf and other sporting events are time proven.  Relaxing activities such as spas, manicure/pedicures, makeovers, and other activities are making a strong showing as well.

There is, of course, some areas best left out.  Engaging the customer at gentlemen’s clubs, also known as ‘strip clubs’, is totally off limits!  It lacks class, and is far from harmless.  There is no activity, which is in poorer taste than this, whether you are supporting (paying for) the activity or you have the gall to have your company pay for it.  For the most part it is in violation of most expense policies (see Black Sales Journal 4/4/11 Business Entertainment – Some Do’s and Don’ts).

Stand for Something!

Black professionals beware: Company expense policies should be observed, and the letter of the law in an expense policy is important, but more important is understanding the intent.  The intent should be followed without fail.  In establishing and retaining credibility sales professionals don’t need to run afoul of what is, or what should be, socially acceptable.

Gone are the days when sales professionals and executives can entertain at gentlemen’s clubs without scrutiny.  Everyone should be held accountable for relationship building that is socially acceptable and open to both genders, all ethnic groups, and all sexual orientations.

Even if your customer asks to participate in one of these activities, you should show an unwavering stance and say that it is not something that you want to do.  I think that you should have the confidence to say, “No, but I have something else that we can do that will be great.”  That effort to redirect will probably be accepted, but even if rejected, I think you will have shown your character.

Stand up for yourself in this.  A mentor of mine told me once, “If you don’t stand for something, you don’t stand for s—!”  Think about it.  What do you stand for?

The Real Costs!

When men get together and consider the gentlemen’s club option, just think how offensive and exclusionary that is, or can be, to female customers, or co-employees.  It is discriminatory, and totally unfair!  You lose your integrity, your credibility, and respect.  Hmmm!  I am not sure you have much left that is considered universally of value.

The same is true for female sales professionals.  Taking clients to an ‘all men’ review is equally poor in taste.  Protect your image as well.

I am not sure which would be worse, to leave your female counterparts or customers behind, or to be as ridiculous as to ask them to attend.  Show your character and avoid mindless activities.  Keep everyone engaged an involved.  Treasure everyone’s feelings in the process.

A Personal Example

I was once a regional sales manager in the Michigan/Ohio market.  This market is dominated by the auto industry, but also focused in southeastern Michigan, basically Detroit.  I enjoyed the 6 year stint there, but was continually asked to go either to 8 Mile, an area replete with gentleman’s clubs, or to Windsor, Canada, another area brimming with strip clubs and other attractions.

An executive vice-president of my organization visited our office with one of his direct reports, a senior vice president, in tow.  After the requisite meeting they ask me to take them to Windsor.  I will be honest, I felt some pressure as this was two steps up from my manager, an important company officer, and very influential.

I said to them, “I will not be going there, but you can use my vehicle to go if you are sure that is what you want to do.” It was met with the quick reply, “Come on, we are going to talk business with you!  You need to be there for us to talk about this stuff.”  The Senior VP then said, “Don’t give me this s— that you don’t go to strip clubs….”  I retorted, “You don’t want to hear it, but I don’t go to strip clubs.”

They smirked, but found someone else to take them.  I always wondered whether it would affect my career, but it did not do any long-term damage, although it was known in the short term that I was not one of the ‘boys”.  Remember, you have to stand for something!

Stand Tall

Find comfort in standing tall in situations like this. Don’t do anything because the ‘crowd’ thinks you should.  Whether you are male or female, Black or white, gay or straight, be you and eventually you will be appreciated for your stance.  If you partake of these activities currently, you should consider your image and take this opportunity to change.  See the light!

Your comments are welcome. You can reach me at Michael.Parker@BlackSalesJournal.com.

Your Elevator Pitch: 30 Seconds to Create Interest!

Elevator

I think you know that I think you should “always be prepared”!  The ability to cogently tell someone who you are, who you represent, and what you and your organization does best could make the difference between being successful or being another peddler.  Read about it!

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Whether your encounter is face-to-face or you are on the phone “dialing for dollars” you know that you only have a moment to get across a cogent well-timed message to supplement your original sales intro that spurs the buyer to consider you, and your company.

Your ability to include the right elements, coupled with the strength of your delivery may get you that appointment that you desire.  Remember, when cold calling, or phone prospecting the “end game” is to get in front of the customer, and this is the tool that you will use to show your understanding of the following elements:

  • Your understanding of the customer’s needs – Why would they consider and buy?
  • The important features of your product – What makes it desirable?
  • The key considerations of your company – Why is ABC company a leader or an upstart?

Yes, this can be done in one brief passage, and you had better be good at it as attention spans and time constraints require it to be short and on point.  I business this is called an elevator pitch as the time that it takes to go from the 1st to the 7th floor might be all you have get the point across, and ask for the appointment.

The good part is that you can and should practice it over and over until you feel that it is natural and ready for delivery.

Key Points

The above bullets indicate the elements that you are going to convey.  Your objective is to leave someone with a short, almost precise, indication of who you are, what your organization is known for, and why he or she should interact with you.

Here is an example:

Set Up - You are selling widgets in a large metropolitan area.  Your company is one of the largest widget manufacturers and distributors in the northeast.  It is a proven performer, a Fortune 1,000 company with a “state of the art” research and development facility and clever innovation.  Your ability to fill large orders quickly is a big plus.

You are at the airport, preparing to board a flight from Hartford, Connecticut to Dallas, Texas and your winning personality comes through when you have a discussion with a businessman who needs…you guessed it, widgets!

Businessman – Exclaims with exasperation “Our supplier for widgets has basically advised they cannot keep up with our growth and demand.  They are top-flight widgets, yet as a result of our tolerances we are going to have to consider having two suppliers.”

Sales Professional – Sees the opportunity and says, “I certainly understand that situation.  I am in the widget business, and we have been successful in sourcing high quality widgets to our customers with the highest tolerances and in high volumes, with short lead times.  Your widgets are probably the most important component of your product.”

As the sales professional hands the businessman a card he says, “I work for ABC Widgets out of Hartford.  You might be aware that we are the largest, most technologically advanced widget manufacturer in the country according to Manufacturer’s Digest.  Our ability to meet tight tolerances, large orders, and ‘just-in-time’ requests ranks with the best of any widget manufacturers.  Also, since we manufacture and wholesale for other widget producers, we know that we can supply all of your needs. We will do everything possible to keep you from having multiple suppliers.  Give me your card and I will touch base with you Thursday?”

Businessman – “What a coincidence! Here is my card.  Make it Friday when I return and I will look forward to it.”

In this vignette the sale professional seized on the opportunity by describing who ABC Widgets is, and then using a known proof source to get credibility (Manufactures Digest).  He then states that what they are known for, tight tolerances, large orders, and responsiveness.  He was in the right place at the right time, yet while boarding, he had a few seconds, and a ready and effective pitch.

What does it mean for you?

If you are a Black sales professional your pitch should be well rehearsed, delivered with aplomb, and focused on the strength of your company or organization. Whether prospecting or networking, this is that “can-do” statement that you have to master!

When you get deeper into the solicitation process and are delivering solutions, you can begin to stress the assets that you bring.  If all goes well, you will get that chance.

By the way, you may need more than one elevator pitch for different types of industries or products.  Yes, this example may seem oversimplified, yet it you will see the worth of having this prepared discussion many times over in your sales career.

Practice it and make it work for you.

Your comments are welcome. You can reach me at Michael.Parker@BlackSalesJournal.com.