A fruit basket arrived this morning. My first reaction was, "who would want to send me a fruit basket?" It turned out that a salesperson sent it, hoping to get me on the phone. He had already left two voice mail messages and stopped by on one other occasion.
As I write about his attempts to reach me, a few thoughts are running through my mind:
- I can't recall a salesperson who had ever tried that hard to make an impression;
- He must not have any other prospects;
- It's an expensive way to prospect;
- It does make him memorable;
- The fruit was good;
- He's a lousy salesperson but has most of the strengths to support selling;
- I'd rather have an unskilled salesperson who pulled out all the stops than a skilled salesperson who didn't (can sell vs. will sell - our assessment would identify this);
The problem is that I'm not a prospect for him and sending me fruit doesn't make me a prospect. If he had already spoken with me and wanted me to remember him, the fruit basket surely would have separated him from the pack. But just to get me to talk with me for the first time? If I didn't have time to call him before, a fruit basket won't help me find the time tomorrow.
When your salespeople aren't getting through and aren't getting their calls returned, it's not because they didn't send fruit baskets. It's because they are ineffective on their calls or they aren't making enough of them. When they aren't very good at it, look to one of the following areas to improve:
- Introduction - is it 5 words or less and do they sound like someone you would choose to speak with?
- Attention - do they get their prospects' attention in the first 10 seconds?
- Engagement - do they get the prospect engaged in the call after that?
- Positioning Statement - are they able to articulate the prospect's likely problem in about 12-15 words or less?
- Example - can they provide two examples of the problems you solve in about 10 words or less for each?
- Stickiness - are the positioning statement and examples memorable? Do they have the elements of surprise, emotion, credibility, and a story? Are they concrete and simple?
- Dialog - do your salespeople have a discussion around the prospect's issues?
- Close - when they identify issues do they close for an appointment?
Remember, fruit baskets are OK for follow up. They are lousy for getting prospects to the phone. The best story I ever heard for getting people to the phone was a story I read in a business magazine last year. A company was recruiting engineers and they sent candidates a package containing a cell phone. When the candidate opened the package, the phone would ring and the candidate would answer. Bingo. This is a bit more expensive than the fruit basket but I'll bet it would work a lot better.
(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan