While entertainment is a highly common and absolutely appropriate technique for generating business, not everyone thinks it is appropriate. Some people are annoyed by vendors offering to take them to lunch. We had a client who said that one of his clients made it clear that he only wanted good work and no entertainment.
Some businesses actually prohibit entertainment by vendors. They don’t want their employees selecting vendors because of personal benefit.
One solution to this obstacle is to not use entertainment for people who don’t approve of it. Instead, look for people who are open to it. And for those people who don’t want to be entertained, find some other method of value to offer that they would appreciate. Many companies like seminars because of their educational value.
Make a Cost-Benefit Analysis
Of course, as with other forms of value in advance, entertainment requires time and expense. So you want to maximize its value to you. Here are some pros and cons of business entertainment methods.
Breakfast is a relatively quick and easy method to get to know someone, and you can get back to your office early so that the meal doesn’t interfere with your day. Lunches are probably the most popular, because most people have lunch. But a drawback of lunches is that they can take time out of the middle of the day.
Dinners are more expensive and time consuming, especially since you may be inviting spouses and dining at nice restaurants. But with important targets, it may be worth the expense. One way to keep the diner cost down is to entertain at home. An additional benefit of home entertainment is that it is more personal. You can reveal more about who you are in your home environment. People coming to your home can see your photographs, meet your family, and see your home. In this way, they can get a clearer sense of who you are and feel more connected to you.
Hosting large events can be a highly economical way to entertain. As you add people to your events, your cost per person often goes down. An added benefit of parties is that your contacts can meet each other. A drawback is that they may be difficult to plan. You have to select a venue and find a time when most people can attend.
For more marketing tips, check out our book Selling in Your Comfort Zone.