September 7, 2010
Filed under: Tip of the Day
Here are the success stories behind each selling strategy.
1. Your Lucky Numbers
Four years ago, Deborah Price, creative marketing consultant with Geiger (asi/202900), was getting shot down. After making some contacts with a security company at an event and following up with them for two years, they just were not interested in seeing her goods. But, she didn’t give up.
As an associate member of the Building Owners and Managers Association, Price was determined to break through to the security company. She sent them a giant fortune cookie with a personalized message about the tremendous success the prospect would have if they used Deborah Price. In addition, the cookie’s “lucky numbers” were her phone numbers.
Eventually, Price got the opportunity to present her gift ideas. “In my head, more than likely they would throw me a bone. I figured that the worst-case scenario was that they’d continue with their old rep, but they’d give me the opportunity to provide candy for the receptionists,” she says.
The day of Price’s initial meeting was just short of disastrous. The address on her contact’s business card was in downtown Los Angeles, but the office was in Orange County. “It was off to a crazy, rocky, messed-up start. We’re all sweating and I walked in late,” she recounts. It turns out, she wowed the client. She set up the conference room with beautiful gifts, including items from Leed’s and Cutter & Buck. She presented everyone with a folder of the items she was presenting. She also provided a “Thanks a Dozen” box filled with bagels and cream cheese for everyone. “They ended up buying those from me as well. It turns out that they were so wowed by my items and passion that they gave me the order for the gifts,” she says.
Since that meeting, Price has been the client’s only source for premiums and gifts. “It’s been amazing. I am their exclusive person. They told every salesperson to go through me for their giveaways and trade shows,” she says. Her total sales figures for the client are approximately half a million dollars.
2. Heartbreak Hotel
When Dave Mann was selling copy machines, he knew cold calling was the way he had to go. “There’s not a lot of repeat business in that industry, so in order to be successful, it was 50 cold calls a day, rain or shine, sleet or snow,” says Mann, the director of national accounts for Promotional Designs Inc. (asi/300830).
When Mann switched industries into the promotional world, he applied the same formula and sold over $1 million in his first year. “I approach cold calling as, ‘What the heck, they are currently buying nothing from me, how much worse could it get?’ ” he says. To him, cold calling is true selling, and the rest is just account management. Most years, he sells about $3 million.
When Mann prospects for new clients, he finds pursuing a common interest works. For months, he called on a national music magazine publisher because it was 90 miles away and there wasn’t much other business in the area. He subscribed to the magazine and is a huge music fan, so he had some good ideas to present. The contact never called him back after numerous voicemails over about six months. “One day, I called the receptionist and told her my story and said, ‘What’s up with this lady? She never calls me back. What kind of person is she?’ ” he says. The receptionist told him that the contact was a huge Elvis Presley fan and her office was decorated with all kinds of Elvis memorabilia.
Mann waited several weeks, until August 16, the anniversary of Elvis’ death. He left a voicemail in an “Elvis” voice saying, “Hey mama, this is Dave. I too am a huge fan of Elvis and your not returning my calls has got me ‘All Shook Up.’ In fact, I am staying at the ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ until I hear back from you. Any true fan of Elvis would certainly call me back on the anniversary of his death. Please don’t treat me like a ‘Hound Dog.’” Within five minutes, the prospect called him back and said, “You got me.” After a good laugh, she scheduled an appointment with Mann. He mentioned that he had some good ideas, he did local imprinting and could provide some services that she wasn’t getting. He also ordered a pair of Elvis sunglasses and an Elvis wig, and arrived at the appointment wearing his new accessories. His contact greeted him with delight, hugged him and proceeded to steal his Elvis stuff for her office display.
Mann’s first order with the magazine was for polo shirts. Seven years later, he still does business with the client, even though his contact has since retired. He has been able to penetrate other departments within the account and continues taking orders for T-shirts, hats and other apparel items, pocket knives, chip clips, duffel bags and writing pads. He has sold approximately $200,000 worth of items to this client.
3. While You Were Out
For Ryan Sauers, getting a return call required a creative push. The president/CMO of Sauers Communication (asi/319273) was trying to work with a religious-related entity in his area. “I called on them over and over again. They liked our company, we said all the right things, and they said they were serious about moving their business. The problem was, we couldn’t get them to move off dead center and pull the trigger,” he says.
The tough part for Sauers was that he knew the prospect, he just couldn’t get a return call. “I’d get the receptionist, I’d get voicemail, but I couldn’t get them on the phone. If someone is telling you that it’s a great fit, how do you get their attention?” he says.
About five years ago, Sauers went into the prospect’s office and noticed that the receptionist used a “While You Were out” slip. He decided to go in for the kill and make sure that his message got to the main part of the office. He took the slip and wrote, “Please call Ryan Sauers. He’s having a hard time reaching you. You’ve been chasing each other. Signed, Ryan Sauers.” He blew up the note to 8″ by 11″ and faxed it to the office.
Within an hour, Sauers got a call from the prospect asking when they could get together. In the first meeting, the prospect mentioned Sauers’ creativity, his confidence and his persistence. The prospect said his unique thinking was the push it took to provide an opportunity.
“We were able to develop a relationship and start talking about the people we knew in common. We set up a subsequent meeting with both of our staffs, which led to moving the first projects in our direction,” Sauers says. The new client started booking more orders with him, and eventually ordered apparel, giveaway items and brand-identity products. “This client has also helped get me business with its sister organizations,” he says.
The client has worked with Sauers for about four years now. “They were loyal to their other supplier and didn’t have a desire to change. It took something to get their attention,” he says. He now books about $25,000 per year with the client.
Even though Sauers’ staff thought the fax was risky, he has no regrets. “What would have happened if I had just quit? Try a different direction, try something off the wall. That was either going to work or bite me in the butt. I knew that fax would stand out,” he says.