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June 29, 2022

Sales Prospecting With Gifts, Buying Customers, And Investing In Prospecting (Not for insurance agents)

There are lots of different ways to prospect.

I’m going to talk about an idea that isn’t for everybody. I call it the irresistible bribe.

If you sell something with a good markup, a good commission, and want to increase your sales, you may like the idea of giving a great gift if a qualified prospect will see your product demonstration…or is willing to talk to you about your service.

For example, when I was much younger, I used to give a cutlery set, with a price tag of $29 if someone would take a look at my vacuum cleaner. My cost for that set was about $5.

I would only offer it after I asked several questions,to make sure that they could buy my vacuum if they wanted it.

I wold ask them what kind of work thy did, whether they owned their home, and what kind of vacuum cleaner they owned. I wold also ask if they had ever had a salesperson in their home before. And if they did, what was the offer, and did they buy from the salesman.

Sometimes I made these questions part of a quick survey I asked, and sometimes it was just part of a conversation. But if they answered in a way that was conducive to selling…I would offer them a cutlery set if they would look at my vacuum cleaner.

This is an important part…I knew that there was a 41% chance that I was going to make a sale, if I presented my product to a qualified prospect. “Qualified” meant that they had a full time job, had signs of good credit, and had a vacuum cleaner that they didn’t just buy from another in home salesperson. I found out later that it was a huge plus if they had already bought from an in home salesperson before. In fact, that factor made such a huge difference in the probability that they were going to buy from me…that I eventually just wanted to show those people my product…and nobody else. Because if they had previously bought from an in home salesperson, the odds were about 80% that they would also buy from me.

And the gift mattered. I found a source (this may have been 30 years ago) that wholesales small TVs for about $28 each, in quantity. That was my best gift. Almost anyone would trade an hour of their time for a new small screen TV. And about half of those people bought from me, so my cost…per sale…was only about $56. And my commission was several hundred dollars. So it was a great way to “buy appointments”.  One thing I learned very quickly was to only offer the TV if they were really qualified to buy…because I gave the TV at the beginning of the presentation, and couldn’t take it back. The TV was for their time, not for buying. And they were entitled to the gift, even if I decided that they weren’t likely to buy…or a condition prevented them from buying.

These gifts were for a presentation. They had nothing to do with whether the prospects bought or not.

Once in a while, I’ll hear from a financial adviser…or an insurance agent…that it’s against the law for them to give gifts.  It may be grounds for losing your insurance license.

But I’ve read the rules, and it seems that a gift is OK as long as the value is under $15.

But be careful who you offer these gifts to. I once made the mistake of doing a direct mail campaign of 10,000 mailers…where I offered a nice camera for looking at a product. For three days, our phones were constantly busy. We gave away hundreds of free cameras. But…it seemed every unemployed person in town, and a good number of homeless people…got the flyer. Nothing against these people, but they were not going to be able to buy a $1,500 vacuum cleaner.

We spent several thousand dollars on the cameras and flyers. And ended up with two…TWO presentations to qualified people..and one sale.  So don’t just offer expensive gifts to anyone that can dial a phone.  When I sold life insurance (many moons ago) I had a direct mail piece that gave away a padlock for an appointment. This worked well enough to continue offering it for months. It kept me in appointments, and I made sales.

But if you sell a service or product outside the financial field, I’d certainly consider offering a gift to qualified prospects for their time.


One final note. You really have to give the gift when they first meet with you. You can’t hold onto the gift until the end of the presentation. Why? Because the entire presentation, they will be wondering when they will get the gift. Give the gift up front. Sure, you’ll waste a few. But you’ll make more sales. And it’s the right way to treat your prospect.