Maybe bankers just really need some better pickup lines.
That was the customer-service advice from Daymond John, the founder of the FUBU clothing brand and a reality-television regular, on Wednesday evening. John took time out from his appearances on the ABC investor-competition series "Shark Tank" to help a group of bankers and payments executives step up their game.
"Pitching a customer … is like pitching a girl at the bar," he told the audience, from one end of a cavernous yet clubby corporate dining room in UBS's midtown Manhattan offices.
"You don't go up to her and say, 'Guess what I'm going to let you do? I'm going to let you listen to me chew your ear off, for half an hour at dinner'," he said. "Most likely it's, 'I'm going to send you flowers every single day, a brand-new pair of shoes, tell you anything you want - you will never be fat, you will never be old, and you can just call me when you need me.' That's going to get the girl."
Those smooth words apparently work for some people. "I've gotten a lot of girls that way," the celebrity investor boasted, hastening to add, "Not girls — companies."
John spoke as part of a payments industry event devoted to financial services for underserved consumers. He stopped by ahead of the third season premier of "Shark Tank," an "American Idol"-meets-venture-capital reality show in which John competes with other wealthy judges to invest in — or smack down — aspiring entrepreneurs' dreams.
His presentation, hosted by the New York payments industry networking group NYPAY, was followed by a panel discussion about financial services for underbanked consumers.
The panel's speakers included some slightly more traditional payments experts, including Western Union's Stewart Stockdale, Core Innovation Capital's Arjan Schutte and Univision's Scott Scovel. But John stayed until the end, chatting with the bankers and start-up founders — perhaps even, we hope, recruiting future "Shark Tank" talent.