1. Money

Tips on Asking for the Order

By July 25, 2010

My company sponsored a special event of a local industrial association recently and we made some good contacts. We had a booth at which we were promoting our products, and we saw about a hundred people. Of those hundred, exactly one called me afterward as a potential client. She's a commercial insurance rep.

Her phone call was brief, confident and effective. She said she'd like to get together with me to review my insurance and see if she can save me money. No long-winded build-up to asking for an appointment, no 20 questions to get to the moment of truth, no big speech about herself. Just a simple request for my time, which resulted in an upcoming appointment. I am happy with my current insurance, but some of that has to do with inertia and habit. The fact is, I haven't reviewed it for potential cost savings in five years. So she's got at least a 50 percent chance of gaining a new client.

Here's the teachable moment from this story about selling skills.

Depending on what you're selling, you can make an aggressive request even without "relationship selling." We are conditioned these days to believe that we need a relationship with someone so that we can understand them fully, which then leads to the possibility of doing business.

But there's a difference between closing business and opening the door. You have to do the latter before the former, and a lot of people don't get that.  So just focus on getting an appointment.  If you're a financial advisor ("It was nice to see you on the golf course the other day.  Some of other club members who are clients of mine were very interested in our quarterly market update conference call, so I thought I'd invite you to listen in to the next one"); an elder-care attorney ("A lot of my colleagues from the association are dealing with elder care issues with their parents. Would you like to come in for a free consultation?"); a car dealer ("I saw you were driving a 2004 Ford. We have a zero percent APR financing offer until the end of the month. Would you like to stop by for a test drive?"); a commercial banker ("I was in your store last week and loved your merchandise. Can I stop by to see what your expansion plans are and if we can help?");  and many other categories.

One technique I hate: Take any of the above and change them to, "Would next Tuesday be a good time for you to come in and...." That's called the presumptive close. That's when I hang up the phone. Be respectful enough of your prospect to make an invitation without insinuating yourself into their calendar.

Read more on the subject of selling techniques that get you in the door.

What's your experience with "warm-calls"? Are you making them? What's works and what doesn't? Please leave a comment.

Comments
July 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm
(1) Thomas Huynh says:

Mitchell,

One thing she did was she didn’t waste your time. Sometimes it’s not the product she’s selling but the timing, whether you were ready to buy. The other was she followed up, a mark of a true professional.

Thomas

July 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm
(2) entrepreneurs says:

Thomas, exactly! I really liked that she was so efficient…and I found her CONFIDENCE to be very attractive. It made me open to an appointment. No ums, no uhs, just out there saying what she had to say. Good points, thanks for making them.

July 26, 2010 at 6:28 am
(3) Jake Ivry says:

All sales people are entrereneurs as they are managing their own time/business and for the most part are compensated on a success basis. Cold calling doesn’t work for every business or industry. In my experience, cold calling has very limited success. We have engaged a telemarketing company to create warm leads so for the most part for a sales person to call blindly is not a recipe for success. The insurance story reveals the basis for a connection – the agent met you and was somewhat known to you. Did you followup will all 100 booth visitors and what are the opportunities (on a percentage basis) from them? Curious to hear about the follow-up.

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