What can Columbo teach us about sales and networking?
We are all familiar with the loveable and inquisitive detective Columbo. The TV audience watches a seemingly well-orchestrated crime take place, only to later witness Columbo wander onto the scene, put all the pieces together, and solve the caper. In the end, the perpetrator is always amazed that Old Columbo figured it out. But how did he do it every week? And what on earth does Columbo have to do with sales and networking?
Well, Columbo is a master of three things.
First, he has perfected the art of asking questions (“Oh, one more thing…). Some of the questions he asks seem silly, but they are all designed to gather information to move the crime solving process to the next step. That is what we should be doing when we’re out networking or out selling. We ask questions to gather information to see if it makes sense to move the process further.
Second, Columbo is a master listener. Not only does he ask the questions, but he also listens intently to the answers. Seems simple enough, but how often have we heard of the sales guy just throwing up all over a prospect or new networking partner talking just about himself (I talk about how to disengage from folks like this in my book)
Third, Columbo takes notes so he doesn’t forget what people say. This also gives the impression to those around him that he’s paying attention. In the sales and networking space, we can take a note on the back of a business card (“call tomorrow for a meeting” or “send a brochure”) to remind us what to do next or we can take notes in our CRM system to keep us more organized with our follow through.
So, next time you’re our networking or selling, think of these points by our good friend Columbo although I wouldn’t recommend wearing a rain coat if it’s not raining! What are some of the favorite questions you ask to keep the sales or networking process moving forward?
David is also Managing Principal of Spendown Finance, a small & midsize business funding company in Richmond, VA.
Latest posts by David Wilson (see all)
- I Hate Networking Events! interview with Kevin Jordan - May 30, 2015
- Yoga prepares us for entrepreneurship? You bet! - September 18, 2014
- Was Blake right in Glengarry Glen Ross with rant “Always Be Closing”? - September 8, 2014