When you are prospecting for sales, the very best list of names you can call…is your list of past buyers. That’s true in every industry, for every type of selling.
But what’s the second best person to call? The people who almost bought what you sell…the day before.
Another example from my days selling vacuum cleaners in people’s homes……although this will apply to everyone, no matter what they sell.
For the first twenty years or so, when I had salespeople working for me, selling vacuum cleaners…if the prospect didn’t buy…we simply didn’t call them again. The reason was…when I was on an appointment they either bought or they didn’t…and I found that repeated calls on them jut irritated them. And to be frank, I closed enough that I had nothing left to offer by the time I left.
But it wasn’t like that with the reps I had working for me. Sometimes they simply forgot an option we offered. Sometimes they irritated the buyer so they wouldn’t buy. But most of the time…the people they showed the vacuum cleaner either almost bought…or barely bought. In other words, the sales were close.
And almost sold has value. So I would call the people that my reps almost sold the day before….and say that I was conducting a customer service survey…and asked a few questions about te rep’s conduct, and how he explained our offer. What I was really doing was attempting to reproduce the emotional state they felt at the end of the presentation.
And then I would say…like it just occurred to me, “Well, it sounds like you really liked the vacuum cleaner you saw. Could you tell me why you decided not to get it?”. And then I would listen. Sometimes it was something that I couldn’t overcome…or they just didn’t want it badly enough to buy it. But sometimes it was a concern I could easily address, a question I could easily answer, or a matter of paying for it…and I had an option the rep didn’t explain to them. And every once in a while…the rep simply didn’t ask them to buy. It happens. But about 40% of these calls ended up with a sale. Eventually I trained my sales manager to make these calls, and then we found that our number of sales went from 40-60% if he simply showed up the next day, instead of calling.
We had a small problem..the reps that did the presentation should have been paid something, but they didn’t actually make the sale, I did or my manager did. So I gathered all the reps together and told them that we had a new program where they would still make $50 commission on the sales they didn’t make…if we went back the next day and sold them. We even gave them the option for us to not do that. Some newer reps thought that the people would buy later from them. Of course, that never really happened. But eventually they would all opt in for that program.
Even if we had to lower the price, change the terms, or offer something for free to get the sale, the rep still made their $50. And we gave the rep the referrals we got from the people we sold the next day.
And eventually I had agreements with other distributors to call the people that almost bought from their reps……more money for everyone.
Of course, you don’t sell vacuum cleaners…but these ideas apply to anyone selling anything. If you call the prospects that you presented to the day before…and ask them why they didn’t buy…you’ll make quite a lot of money for the small investment of time. We were talking mostly to couples, and I found that about 10% of the time they had talked about it after the rep left, and had decided that they really should have bought. Easy easy sales.