When you’re having trouble getting in to see your prospects, you need to get a little creative. That’s exactly what Dan Nichols did to promote his Figaro’s franchise pizza restaurant in Eugene, Oregon. We were training the franchisees in Eugene on how to set up cross promotions. In the beginning stages of implementing cross promotions, we suggest they start with people they know, in particular their own customers. The advantages are that the prospect is coming to you and they are already familiar with your product and the quality of your service.
However, some of the biggest cross promotion opportunities in their trading area happened to be businesses with managers or owners who were not his customer. So, Dan suggested that if the decision maker were not coming to him, he would have to go visit the decision maker. Of course, the problem there is that business people don’t like to receive sales pitches. Dan solved that problem by simply taking him a pizza with him on each visit. He would show up about 11:30 with a large pizza, and in just about every instance, was welcomed with open arms. His goal was to deliver one pizza a day to a key business in his area. In just one month, he made numerous contacts and set up many promotions.
We had a similar experience several years ago when a local bank manager came to visit our office. He brought with him a jar filled with gourmet jellybeans. It was just enough to get our attention. As a result, that branch manager had the opportunity to ask us some questions about our business and banking needs. That cold call resulted in that bank refinancing the mortgage on our office building.
To be successful on a first contact, first have a way to capture the attention of the prospect. Hot pizza, jellybeans or other fun type “peace offerings” can be just the ticket to get you past a gatekeeper. Keep it fun and not too expensive. Dropping off a catalogue or promotional materials would not fall into this category. That comes later.
Sometimes it helps to call first. Generally, it’s very difficult to reach decision makers by phone, but you can use a telephone call to determine the days and time your prospect is likely to be in. If the opportunity allows, see if you can gather some key information about your prospect from the receptionist; including the name of his or her personal secretary, official title, hobbies, and pet peeves.
Next, should you get an opportunity to talk with a decision maker, you’ll want to have several key questions prepared so that you can determine in just a few minutes if this prospect has potential. If the prospect looks promising, offer to stop by when he or she has more time to learn about how you can provide the “benefit” he or she is looking for. Try to nail that person down to a specific time for the second visit.
Lastly, get a “thank you” card in the mail that day. You want that card to show up within a few days of your initial visit. This card helps to reinforce that initial contact and remind the prospect of your future visit.
Don’t try to do too much too soon. Most selling efforts have a natural rhythm to them and if you try to rush the process, the prospect becomes defensive. That’s why it’s important to work a number of new prospects all the time. Have a steady pipeline of potential new business every week.
– PMQ –