On today’s episode, we talk about one of my favorite topics; using lunch and learns to generate leads. By offering to take prospects out to lunch, or catering lunch at their office, you can get face time in a non-invasive, casual setting. This episode is part 1 of our series and focuses on the benefits and preparation of a lunch and learn. Episode 36 will be part 2 and cover how to actually conduct a lunch and learn that generates leads (and closes deals).
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Benefits Of A Lunch And Learn
There’s a lot of noise in the security industry, and you can be sure that property managers and other potential customers have received calls and pitches from other competitors. Offering to buy or cater lunch seems like a little thing, but it helps cut through the noise and show that you’re willing to make a tangible commitment too them.
Plus, everybody has to eat lunch. Even if they’ve got a loaded schedule for the rest of the day, they can find time to eat and talk. You immediately get them outside of the formal “pitch” context, where they’ve got their guard up, and can establish more of a connection.
“It’s a great way to build that relationship with that client,” I tell Johnny. “It beats the normal presentations that are out there today.”
You also have a better chance to build a connection since lunch will usually go longer than a normal presentation. That means more time for Q&A, less pressure, and the opportunity to learn more about their business. Plus, who’s going to cancel on a free lunch?
How To Prepare And Get A Commitment
Offering a lunch and learn gives you a better chance of getting a commitment than a traditional presentation, but you still need to come in prepared. Ideally, don’t just call up a potential lead. Research them ahead of time, come in, ask for a specific person, and come in with menus in hand. Try to collect orders ahead of time to lock down attendance.
If at all possible, aim to host it at their office. That will be more convenient for them, everyone will be more comfortable, and you’re more likely to get the attendance of key decision makers. Have a hotel conference room or restaurant with a private room prepared as a backup.
Finally, have an agenda prepared. Again, this means researching ahead of time to find out what kind of properties they manage and what specific needs they might have. I would often target regional managers representing multiple properties, which meant lot of opportunities, but also lots of preparation.
Try It Out
If you’re not sure whether this marketing strategy is right for you, try a test. Do three lunch and learns. If you don’t close any deals, you don’t have to try it again, but closing just one will more than pay for all three.
“I’d venture to say you’re going to walk away with some deals after putting on three lunch and learns,” says Johnny.