At the current time, I’m doing some one-on-one coaching as part of the 6-week jump-start program. This has motivated me to remember when I was selling hundreds of merchant accounts and ask myself how I REALLY sold them – not what I want to tell people, but what I actually DID.

No matter what I was selling or to whom I was selling, there was one opening pitch that was my favorite.

I loved walking into a business after I had connected with the owner on LinkedIn.

At least once or twice a week I searched on LinkedIn for about an hour, adding to my connection list. To do this –

• Search the word “Owner.”
• Select “people.”
• Select “1st & 2nd degree connections” from the drop-down.
• Click “location” and select one near you.

Connect with 10-15 new business owners each week. You may use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to organize. It’s helpful but not necessary.

This search tells you the owner’s name, business name, location, and, most importantly, your shared connections. Since you’re searching the local area, more often than not you’ll probably share connection with a client or another local business owner you know.

What to do when you find a prospect.

I’ve been asked if I used an advanced tactic, such as

• Send the prospect information to a click funnel page.
• Add to a custom audience on Facebook and re-target.
• Use Google AdSense to follow the prospect with a great offer.

However, I didn’t do any of that. I just had the crazy idea to go sell that person!

First, I sent a connection request, saying “I see we share a connection with Susan, who is a client of mine. I’d love to connect with you since we’re both local business owners in the area.” Whether the person accepted or not wasn’t important.

Go to the business!

Because of the LinkedIn profile picture, I already knew what the owner looked like. I walked in and said, “Hey! Bill, right?”

“My name is James Shepherd. I actually reached out and connected with you on LinkedIn; I don’t know whether you saw that or not? I see we have a shared connection with Susan, who is a client of mine. I just wanted to stop by, introduce myself, and do some networking. How do you know Susan; do you go back a ways?”

There it is! That was my favorite opening pitch.  Better than all my opening “sales gimmick” pitches.

• I got instant credibility by mentioning somebody else’s name.
• I knew the name of the owner.  And, even better, I knew what the owner looked like. I didn’t have to walk in and ask if Bill was available.  If I saw Bill in the back when I walked in, I’d say, “Hey, Bill!”
• I had the perfect ice breaker.

I could be sure of one of two responses:

#1. Owner says, “Oh, I didn’t even know we were connected on LinkedIn. I’m hardly ever on there. We probably met at the local Chamber of Commerce.”

Then I can respond, “Oh, great! How long have you been a member of the Chamber?” Strike up a conversation. Transition into the excuse for my visit – just doing networking.

“One thing I’ve really made a commitment to this year, Bill, is trying to do more networking. I’m trying to get into the local market and meet more business owners. I would love to take 5 or 10 minutes and get to know more about your business – what you do, more about you. And then tell you a bit about what I do to see if we can benefit each other. Do you have a couple minutes right now to talk or would you like to schedule a time I could come back for a quick networking introduction? I’m sure we’d both get some value from it.”

Describing the difference is difficult, but even though that is just another sales call, it feels different. It feels more like leverage, like I’m in control.

#2. Owner says, “Oh, Susan and I go way back! We went to high school together.” Especially if Susan is an existing client, that’s a huge win.

You can say, “Really? Susan may have mentioned me. We’ve been doing their payment processing for years now! We’re a local company.” Present your elevator pitch – POS Systems, cash discounting, or whatever you’re selling. Then schedule your meeting. That’s even a better scenario than #1.

Leverage this now!

If you ask which opening pitch I used to sell the most merchants, this would be it! I hope you’ll leverage it. Take out your phone right now, get to LinkedIn, and do a search on the word “owner.”

Find someone you can sell using that opening pitch. I promise you’re going to love it!