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Venture Cafe March 9 Michele Migliuolo
Michele Migliuolo speaks to students at the March 9, 2016, Venture Cafe

TechGROWTH Ohio executive and high-flying businessman gives tips to succeed in sales

Jasmine Grillmeier
April 22, 2016

Sales reps often hear that "the sky's the limit" in a given market. But last month's Venture Café speaker has proved that axiom wrong - by once closing an international business deal at 35,000 feet.

Michele Migliuolo, executive-in-residence at TechGROWTH Ohio and a frequent flier, would always make a point to speak with the flight attendants to socialize. During one flight in 2012 from Toronto to Shanghai, Migliuolo explained to a flight attendant that he was traveling to China for work and that he helped American companies break into the Chinese market. A fellow passenger, who was an investor in a medical-based start-ups in Canada that was looking to get into the Chinese market, overheard and struck up a conversation with Migliuolo. After listening to the man and then pitching what he and his partner had to offer, Migliuolo closed this international business deal at 35,000 feet.

It was listening and networking skills that helped land the deal.  In his talk at last month’s Venture Café hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship, Migliuolo advised students to master these two key skills if they want to succeed in the sales field.

First, Migliuolo said, when selling let the potential customer ask questions and learn how to listen. In this respect, Migliuolo recommends listening first, and then passionately and ethically selling second.

“In sales you don’t sell the product,” Migliuolo emphasized. “You figure out why the customer is hurting.”

Second, Migliuolo added that the secret to succeeding in sales is to, “network, network, network.” He advised the audience to get used to introducing themselves to people and not overthink it.

"I completely agree that sales isn't just about selling the product, but networking," Noah Tondari, an Ohio University student who attended the event, said. "This is a valuable takeaway applicable to anyone in the industry.”