In my previous blog, I talked about how when I started as a stockbroker I set myself a target for sending out research to prospects who had agreed to receive it, even if their agreement was mainly just a way to get me ‘off the line.’ I did the same thing with ‘price lists’ when I started my software distribution lists. You may wonder why I felt that sending people something they probably would not read felt like a sensible part of the sales process?
I saw this step as an easy first stage in building a relationship. I would ask for their consent to receive the mailing with a question like ‘You are probably busy right now, would it be useful if I send you some information to read and call you back?’ Typically they would agree just to get rid of me. I would get them to suggest a good time for me to call back and then exit the phone call as soon as politely possible.
When I would ring back at the time agreed, virtually no one would have read what I sent. I didn’t mind because I was doing what I said I would do, when I said I would do it. Typically they would make excuses and we would agree a fresh time for me to call back when they would have had time to consider what I sent or which the Post Office might have delivered if I resent it.
Again, I would call back as arranged and often they still would not have done what they said they would do. The important thing was that they were now on the defensive. Even though it was not explicit, they knew they had not done what they said they would but I had done what I said I would, when I said I would. In their minds, I was establishing myself as reliable, organised, calm and persistent and they were starting to feel a bit guilty because they knew they had wasted my time.
On that next call, when they still admitted they hadn’t looked at what I had sent I I would then say, ‘I understand you are busy. Perhaps if you could just give me five minutes to ask you some questions so I understand your investment needs/business, I could highlight one or two things that would be of particular use to you. Do you think that would be useful? The reply was almost always ‘Yes.’ I now had their agreement to start a real dialogue.
This process was a key part of my sales strategy. Don’t intrude on their time too earlier. Establish a reputation for organization and reliability before they have even bought something. Use their guilt feelings to give me five minutes of quality time on the phone, so I could find products that matched their needs.. Generally in business if you say what you are going to do, and then do it when you said you will, you will be ahead of 90% of the competition. It sounds crazy but it’s true.