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June 29, 2022

A Storm Was Coming…And I Needed A Sale That Day

Years ago, when I was selling vacuum cleaners I was cold calling by knocking on doors. It was unpleasant work. Nobody is happy to see you when you are knocking on their door. Anyway, it was the last day of the month, and I was in a contest. A storm was going to arrive within the hour, and canvassing in a storm is a no-no. I needed a sale. One more sale would give me a huge bonus for the month. I kind of panicked. I started running from door to door.

I wasn’t looking for someone to let me demonstrate my vacuum cleaner, I was looking for a sale. So all my training went out the window. I knocked on doors and said approximately the following, “Hi, I sell vacuum cleaners. If you take a look at mine, I’ll give you this cutlery set. Are you thinking about getting a new vacuum cleaner?” That last sentence was a killer. It made most people turn me down. But I needed a sale, not a demonstration.

After about forty five minutes a man said, “Sure, if it’s good enough, we could use a better vacuum cleaner”. After I brought the machine in their home, I told him and his wife that I was in a contest, and that I couldn’t spend time showing the vacuum cleaner unless there was a real possibility of a sale that night. He said, “Sure, like I said, we’re interested in what you have”. Of course, they bought (Thank Goodness).

I won my contest. But what I gained, that was far more valuable, was the realization that there are actually people out there that want what you have right now. And, as much as you are looking for them, they are looking for you. My job was just to find them. This changed my cold calling procedure forever. Whether I was knocking on doors (this was in the 1970-1980s), or calling on the phone, I found that it was much more profitable if I concentrated on finding the one or two people, that day, that were truly ready to buy what I sold. Rather than trying to convince prospects to let me talk to them, and then convince them to buy, it was easier to just quickly sort through the list, to find the ideal buyers.

This idea only works if you have a near unlimited supply of prospects. For example, in my area, we had 20,000 people I could call. If you sell a highly specialized product that is only bought by a very small segment of the market, I wouldn’t do this. Instead, I would concentrate on building a relationship with the few possible buyers you have to work with. The big advantage of this “call quickly to find the best buyer” method is that you don’t really care if any one person is interested in what you have. You are actually trying to dis-qualify the people you talk to as quickly as you can. Phoning prospects rapidly is also a key to this. If you call three people an hour, you’ll spend an entire day, and maybe not even set one appointment.

If you call prospects as quickly as possible, you’ll find that time flies. You’ll also end up with several appointments with highly qualified and eager buyers.

From my book Sales Prospecting The Ultimate Guide To Finding Highly Likely Prospects You Can Close In One Call