Want to Get In? Try Knocking On The Door

Dirty Harry Teaches Sales to Reluctant Salespeople — a scene from 1973’s “Magnum Force”, featuring Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) and a woman named Sunny who lives in his apartment building:

Sunny: [as Harry walks by to his apartment] Hi!

Harry Callahan: Oh, hi… what’s your name?

Sunny: Sunny. You know, I’ve been living here for almost six months now. It’s funny I’ve never met you before.

Harry Callahan: Oh well… I work a lot.

Sunny: I know. You’re the cop who lives upstairs.

Harry Callahan: That’s right.

Sunny: Mind if I ask you a question?

Harry Callahan: Go ahead.

Sunny: What does a girl have to do to go to bed with you?

Harry Callahan: [blinks twice, then smiles] Try knocking on the door.

More than 10 years ago, I was sitting in the stands at a middle school, watching my son and his friends take on another group of kids in a basketball game. One of the other dads, knowing that I worked in the radio business, sat down next to me and asked me some questions about political advertising. He was a judge  –in an elected position – and was up for reelection.

I don’t remember a lot about the conversation. He knew I sold advertising for a living, and he had some questions about the advertising rules that candidates needed to follow. I answered the questions. Then we turned and watched our kids play. Eventually the game ended, we got into our cars, and I forgot all about it.

Until about two months later when I heard the judge’s radio commercial on my news/talk station. I tracked down the account executive who had gotten the order, and learned that the judge had hired an advertising agency – and had bought $10,000 in advertising on my station.

If I had followed up on the initial conversation, I could have gotten the order myself. Instead, I just assumed he’d call me if he was interested.

My commission for this: zero. It took me a long time to get over that missed opportunity.

That painful event returned to my mind a few weeks ago as I rode in a car with an Account Executive in the Southeast. He was upset because he just seen his chiropractor advertising on a competing television station.

“I’ve been going to that guy for years – and he advertises on Fox?”, he said as he banged his hand on the dashboard.

I asked the Account Executive if he had ever asked the chiropractor to buy anything. “No,” he replied. “But he knows what I do for a living!”

A decade ago, that judge had known what I did for a living, too. Here’s the expensive lesson I learned: It doesn’t matter — you still have to ask for the business.

·        That chiropractor may have a patient who’s an auto mechanic. He knows what the mechanic does for a living. That doesn’t mean he’s going to automatically bring his car to his patient’s repair shop.

·        The chiropractor may have a patient who’s an insurance salesman. He knows what the salesman does for a living. That doesn’t mean he’s going to automatically buy a policy from that agency.

To the chiropractor, the Account Executive was just another patient, and the patient’s occupation was somewhat less important to him than the back pain he was trying to fix. While the AE was waiting for the chiropractor to think about buying advertising, a competitor walked in and swept the money off the table.

Reluctant salespeople depend on relationships in one area to automatically extend everywhere. This rarely works. If you want to somebody to buy, you need to ask for the business. If you want to come in, try knocking on the door.

 

Sales Skills for Reluctant Salespeople

Want to know more? I’ll be covering this topic at the Katie Kelley Networks Fall Soiree in Portland, Oregon.

Frequency: How a Waitress Can Teach You to Make Your Marketing Message Stick

A waitress gave me a powerful advertising lesson a few years ago.

I checked into the Cedar Rapids hotel on a Sunday night in early October, and settled in for the week.

Monday morning, before heading to the TV station, I went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Glancing at the menu, I decided to order oatmeal. I don’t always eat properly on the road, but I can usually get in a healthy breakfast before my self-discipline breaks down.

When the oatmeal arrived at my table, it was anything but healthy. The top layer was some kind of custard, and the rest of it was loaded with sugar and other stuff. It tasted quite good, but it did not mean good things for my cholesterol count.

I called the waitress over and asked her whether the restaurant offered just plain oatmeal. She told me that this was the way the restaurant always did it. Then she paused, and asked me how long I was staying at the hotel. I told her I would be there all week.

“My name’s Jackie,” she said. “When you come down tomorrow, ask for me, and I’ll have the chef just make you a bowl of regular oatmeal.”

Tuesday morning I came down to the restaurant and asked for Jackie. “You mentioned you might be able to get me some regular oatmeal,” I said. “Let me see what I can do,” she replied. 10 minutes later she brought me a bowl of plain oatmeal.

Wednesday morning, I waved to her as I sat down. “Oatmeal, and a to-go cup of coffee with the check?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied, surprised that she had remembered about the coffee. Thursday and Friday, we didn’t even have to discuss it. As soon as she saw me, she put the order in with the kitchen. And when she brought the check, the to-go cup of coffee was right there with it.

Three weeks later, I was back in Cedar Rapids at the same hotel. Monday morning, when Jackie saw me she said, “Welcome back, Mr. Bernstein! Plain oatmeal, right?”. The first day, I had to ask for the coffee-to-go; the rest of the week it all went like clockwork.

The reason I was able to get this special treatment is that I stayed in the same place for an extended period of time, and ate at the same restaurant every morning. Seeing the same faces every day, I got to know them and they got to know me. Over time, one of the waitresses got to know exactly what I wanted, and I didn’t have to start over each morning.

While I was at the hotel, I met another business traveler who was in Cedar Rapids for a couple of days. From there, he was going to Des Moines for two days, and then to St. Louis. He was also having his breakfasts in a hotel restaurant – but every couple of days it would be a different restaurant. He had to take whatever was on the menu.

Here’s the advertising lesson: 

With limited resources, you have a choice when you decide to advertise:

  • You can spread your budget out, and try to reach as many people as possible by doing a little bit of a lot of things. You will be advertising frequently. Lots of people will see you, but they won’t remember you.
  • Or you can take your limited resources and focus them into a small number of places. You will be advertising with frequency. You will reach fewer people — but the people you reach will respond.

The other business traveler — with a couple of days in Cedar Rapids, a couple of days in Des Moines, and a brief stop in St. Louis  — had the equivalent of a “media mix.” A little TV, a little radio, a couple of bus sides. He was seen by more people than I was, but he didn’t get to know them and they didn’t get to know him. When he sat down for breakfast, he got what everyone else got.

I had the same resources — five days — but I spent them all in one place. The same people saw me over and over again, and by the end of those five days the wait staff knew me.

The other guy was eating out frequently; I was eating out with frequency. Which one of us did better?

Sales Skills for Reluctant Salespeople — A Portland Networking Event

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be speaking at the Katie Kelley Networks Fall Soiree in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, October 7. My topic:

Sales Skills for Reluctant Salespeople

Date: Tuesday, October 7

Time: 6:00-8:30pm

Place: Opal 28, 510 NE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97232

Register here

Questions: contact Katie Kelley at Katie@KatieKelleyNetworks.com or call (503) 616-6112

Whether you’re a rookie seller paid on a formal commission plan, an entrepreneur struggling to find customers, or you’re  just trying to get your small business to the next level, knowing how to sell can be the difference between hitting your goals and shutting your doors. I’ll give you some techniques to battle call reluctance, strategies to handle rejection, and some ways to make sure you’re fully prepared for that crucial first meeting.

Doors open at 6 pm for networking and mingling. Light food is provided as well as a cash bar. The formal presentation as well as audience announcements takes place from 7:00-8:00 pm. You then have until 8:30 to introduce yourself to anyone whom you haven’t yet met and the event comes to an end at 8:30. Street parking is available.

Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

If you have any further questions about this event, contact Katie Kelley at Katie@KatieKelleyNetworks.com or call (503) 616-6112.

The Katie Kelley Networks Fall Soiree

Katie Kelley Networks brings together a premier group of Portland’s male and female business leaders from the corporate, civic and entrepreneurial realms to collectively raise the bar for networking done right. The only prerequisites for attendance are a love for business and community building. At these events, you will enjoy a jovial cocktail party atmosphere, expand your local network and learn fresh business skills. What’s not to love about that?

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be speaking at the Katie Kelley Networks Fall Soiree in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, October 7. My topic:

Sales Skills for Reluctant Salespeople

Whether you’re a rookie seller paid on a formal commission plan, an entrepreneur struggling to find customers, or you’re  just trying to get your small business to the next level, knowing how to sell can be the difference between hitting your goals and shutting your doors. I’ll give you some techniques to battle call reluctance, strategies to handle rejection, and some ways to make sure you’re fully prepared for that crucial first meeting.

Doors open at 6 pm for networking and mingling. Light food is provided as well as a cash bar. The formal presentation as well as audience announcements takes place from 7:00-8:00 pm. You then have until 8:30 to introduce yourself to anyone whom you haven’t yet met and the event comes to an end at 8:30. Street parking is available.

Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

If you have any further questions about this event, contact Katie Kelley at Katie@KatieKelleyNetworks.com or call (503) 616-6112.

The Katie Kelley Networks Fall Soiree

Katie Kelley Networks brings together a premier group of Portland’s male and female business leaders from the corporate, civic and entrepreneurial realms to collectively raise the bar for networking done right. The only prerequisites for attendance are a love for business and community building. At these events, you will enjoy a jovial cocktail party atmosphere, expand your local network and learn fresh business skills. What’s not to love about that?

Date: October 7, 2014
Time: 6:00-8:30pm
Event: Katie Kelley Networks Fall Soiree
Topic: Sales Skills For Reluctant Salespeople
Sponsor: Katie Kelley Networks
(503) 616-6112
Venue: Opal 28
Location: 510 NE 28th Ave
Portland, OR 97232
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

A Must-Do Double-Check to Prevent Presentation Heartache

Have you ever been shocked during a sales presentation?

 

 

A few years ago I was presenting an advertising plan to a dentist in Montana. I had met with him a couple of weeks before, and he had been open, enthusiastic, and eager to hear my ideas. In a week of 27 presentations, this one seemed to be in the bag — he was ready to do something, and I had the perfect plan for him.

Now it was a different story. He argued with me about my overall marketing philosophy, didn’t like the strategy I proposed, and called my script “simple-minded”. His demeanor was dismissive, bordering on rude. At the end of the meeting, he told us he’d “think about it”, and left before we could ask him anything more.

I was shaken. Usually when a meeting goes bad I know what went wrong. This time a big opportunity had blown up, and I had no idea why.

The next day his wife, who’d been at both meetings, called the station Account Executive to apologize. A few hours before our presentation, the dentist had met with his accountant and learned that there was more than $100,000 missing from the practice’s bank account. He wasn’t going to buy anything from anyone for a while.

Ever since that day, I start every presentation this way:

Before we begin, I need to ask a quick question. Has anything changed since our last meeting?

 

Most of the time, nothing has, and I can launch things without a problem. But over the past five years, by asking that question I’ve learned that between the last meeting and this one:

  1. The owner has just decided to sell the business.

  2. The company has agreed to merge with a competitor, all decisions are on hold for the next six months, and the guy we’re meeting with will be leaving the company.

  3. The store has picked up a new product line, and will be retooling its marketing substantially.

  4. The medical practice has just hired an advertising agency.

Knowing this information before diving in has allowed me to make adjustments on the fly, some of which have utterly changed the strategy I recommended. On two occasions, we even agreed to cancel the presentation — it was going to be a waste everyone’s time.

Things happen quickly in business, and the questions you asked on Tuesday could have completely different answers the following Monday. Asking if anything’s changed before you dive in can save you enormous heartache.