No matter whether you celebrate or even recognise Christmas, there is one thing hard to escape during the month of December and that’s the Christmas party. Client Christmas parties are a golden opportunity to not only refresh your client relationships but also seek out new opportunities within the same organisation.

Pitching at social gatherings, however, doesn’t tend to go down that well, especially at a client’s Christmas party. You want to ensure you are invited back again next year! So how to you take advantage of the opportunity without being annoying or getting thrown out?

This is where Soft Selling comes into its own. One of the 7 Soft Selling strategies, storytelling, enables you to generate interest through natural conversation.

Make sure your stories are focused on talking about your clients and the type of problems they have and if you do it right you will get people saying things like:

“Give me a call in the New Year, I would like to talk through an idea&rdquo$$ or

“That’s very interesting! we are going through similar problems. Do you have a card?&rdquo$$ or

“That’s just what we need in our department!”

And if they start asking lots of questions then ask them for a card and suggest meeting for coffee to find out more. There are probably plenty more opportunities left to find.

Before you get a chance to tell your stories you will probably need to answer the inevitable question ‘What part of the business do you work in?’

You can answer with something like:

“Oh, I work for an external supplier….We are a WWWW company and we specialise in XXXX. I have been working with YYYYYY to ZZZZZ”

WWWW = the type of work you do. For example, consulting, training etc
XXXX = What you do for your clients. For example, produce more reliable management information
YYYY = The part of the business you have been working with
ZZZZ = The specific benefits YYYY are getting from working with you

The response you get will often be something like:
“That sounds interesting – tell me more…..” which is an invitation to tell the story

They may also say something like “What other clients do you have” which again an invitation to tell a story of the work you did at another client.

An even better approach is to get the client you are working with to introduce you to people and let them tell you what you are doing. Instant credibility!

If this style of sales lead generation is new to you or you want to quickly hone your skills then it’s all documented in my book ‘The Accidental Salesman Networking Survival Guide’ including exercises which will help you work out what to say.

I hope you do take advantage of this golden opportunity and get 2012 off to a great start!