Schmoozing through Richard Abraham's new book : The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships

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Face facts, Frank. Look in the mirror, Mira. The problem you have at the job is that you're spending too much time working and not enough time schmoozing.

Most writers of business books completely miss this simple truth. That's why I'm gaga over Richard Abraham and his new book, "Mr. Schmooze: The Art and Science of Selling Through Relationships."

While Abraham's book is directed toward salespeople, everyone who gets a paycheck can benefit from the teachings of Mr. Schmooze - the "larger-than-life character - a real life composite of the greatest salespeople the author has encountered in his own career."

According to Abraham, "schmoozing is all about interacting with people in a way that creates feelings of warmth, goodwill, pleasure."

"We are on the planet together, right now, working, struggling, laughing, crying, every day," is the way Mr. Schmooze puts it. "I love these people and I want them to know it. In business, who they will buy from is based on two basic sensations: pleasure and pain. If they associate you with pleasure, you win."

Even if you've been doing more crying than laughing in your job, here are two tips to transform yourself from an incommunicative blob into a Mr. Schmooze. Just remember: "schmoozing is about giving - it's simply about making people's lives better."

Figure out what really matters to the prospect. (Hint: It usually has nothing to do with the business at hand.)

According to Abraham, the expert schmoozer knows that people make buying decisions based not on a product's features and benefits, but instead on the features and benefits of the person who is making the sale. That's why Mr. Schmooze, while making his sales pitch, is busily trying to pry into his target's innermost secrets. "You'll find clues in the photos in his office, or the things he brings up in casual conversation," says the author's alter ego. "They key is, be alert."

This is excellent advice. When listening to your boss rave on concerning the complaint du jour, let your attention wander to the photos on his desk. Mr. Schmooze, if he sees pictures of happy golfers on the links, immediately mails off a dozen monogrammed golf balls, a Big Bertha driver, and a set of Tiger Wood's toenail clippings, encased in Lucite.

If your boss's photo array shows sailing pictures, you might purchase a 50-foot yacht with teak decks and three master staterooms. Think how surprised and pleased your boss will be to show up at the parking lot that evening to find that seagoing beauty trailered behind his Jaguar. No way that boss is going to say no to your next raise, or say no when he sees the bill for $650,000 on your expense account.

Practice the art of elevation.

In every interaction, Mr. Schmooze "seeks to elevate the prospect's experience to a memorable level that goes above and beyond the ordinary." Unlike you, a person perfectly satisfied if a meeting with your manager ends up without you being fired, Mr. Schmooze makes "a business dinner an event to remember when it's elevated with a surprise car wash, a gift of wrapped steak knives, and several ice-breaking games that have people bonding like mad."

Alas, Mr. Schmooze did not reveal these games in the brief blurb that I was privileged to read, but I'm pretty sure I know which game will work in your job - Russian roulette. As for the steak knives, they are indeed a great way to end a meeting, but I'd be careful about giving your bosses a sharp instrument. They could cut themselves, or worse, cut you.

If in doubt, give the gift every boss appreciates - a stripper.

One final word: Not all the activities of a Mr. Schmooze are tied to gift giving. That's good news if you work in a highly regulated industry or are in politics. With all the cronyism in Washington today, high-placed politicians and the lobbyists who love them are getting in trouble for trifling gifts like free golfing trips to Scotland. At least, now we know what to expect when these malfeasants finally come to trial.

"It's not my fault, your honor," they'll tell the judge. "I was only schmoozing."

Bob Goldman has been an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company in the San Francisco Bay area. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@funnybusiness.com.

© Copley News Service

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