Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How To Do a Drop-In Sales Call

On 6/11/08 I wrote about using a GPS to help find and schedule opportunities for drop in sales calls. In that entry I also promised to cover what you might want to say when you actually drop in. So here goes...

First, you have to know that I have a core belief about selling. I believe that people love to buy, but don't really like to be sold. Because of this belief, my sales calls are very low-pressure. It's similar to what Dan Kennedy calls "Take Away Selling". So what I do is go in with a packet that contains a brochure or catalog that clearly establishes me as serving THAT particular client. For me that’s pretty simple since I only serve schools and libraries, so my brochure reflects that specialty.

If you have a more generic brochure that outlines all of your many talents and services, you should consider adding an additional piece of literature that positions you as an expert in a particular field. I believe that it is much better to find a niche and drill deep than it is to try and please everyone.

But if you insist on spreading yourself thin, at least have a few different cover letters and testimonial flyers that demonstrate you can serve the specific type of client you are prospecting. For example, if you are targeting restaurants, have testimonials from other restaurant managers, have photos of you doing strolling magic for people sitting in a restaurant environment, and have a list of benefits geared toward a restaurant owner or manager. Make sense?

Let’s use my business as an example of what I would say and how I would do it. We’ll start with a true example from last Wednesday.

EXAMPLE 1: I had two shows booked. The first one was at 10:30 AM and the second was at 2 PM. They were about 30 miles apart. After finishing at the first, I programmed the destination for the second into my GPS and then found 4 libraries that were on the way from one to the other. I added each of them to my route itinerary.

I stopped into the first prospect library, still wearing my outfit from the show I’m doing this summer and I brought in a brochure (which has lots of testimonials sprinkled throughout), a page of testimonials from other librarians with a headline that says “What Your Peers are Saying About Julian Franklin”, and a poster from this year’s show.

I walked in and asked for the children’s librarian. When she came out I introduce myself as follows:

“Hi. My name is Julian Franklin. I’m a professional library show presenter and I just wanted to come in and introduce myself to you. I just finished a show at the Deer Park Library and am on my way to the library in Needville and I saw your sign on the way. Do you ever bring in presenters to help promote your summer reading club?”

She answered as my prospects usually do in this situation: nervous that I am going to hard sell her. She began explaining that she already had all of her programmed lined up for this summer.

I said “Oh no! My schedule is totally booked for this summer. I’m booking for NEXT summer and I'm not trying to get you to book anything right now. I just wanted to introduce myself. Here’s a brochure that sort of describes what I do. This is a list of some of the hundreds of testimonials that I’ve gotten from clients like you. And this is a poster just so you can see how I help promote your event.

"When you book I provide as many of these as you want. I know you’re busy and I’ve got another show in Needville that starts soon. Why don’t you look that stuff over today and then call Deer Park when you get a chance and Needville later on and ask how my show went. They both hire me year after year and I’d love to add you to my schedule for next year, too. I know you’ve got a lot more to worry about right now than next year’s performers, but when you are ready to book for next summer, I hope you think of me and call some of my references to make sure that you are getting the best performer possible.”

Then I leave and go to the next library on my list.

Some sales gurus will suggest you push the prospect to cement a close right then and there, but I prefer a softer touch for my particular market. If your show is good then your other clients will sell you for you. I will point out that every now and then they will try to go ahead and book you for next year just because I dropped in, but it is only about 10% that do it on the spot.

Clearly, this would work in a similar way if you were targeting restaurants for example. On a Saturday as you finish a lunch time strolling engagement and are on your way to a dinner time gig you could stop into a similar restaurant on your way and speak briefly to the manager.

EXAMPLE 2 (completely made-up dialog since I don’t target restaurants): “Hello. My name is Julian Franklin and I am a professional performer who specializes in helping restaurants like yours manage larger numbers of patrons during peak times while also bringing in additional business during slow times. I just left [Name of competitor restaurant] and am on my way to [name of other competitor restaurant] and I thought I should at least drop in, introduce myself and give you some information about how I increase revenue for local area businesses like yours.

"This is a brochure that describes who I am and what I bring to the table, pardon the pun. This is a page of testimonials from managers of other restaurants like yours who have hired me to help them pump up their bottom line. This last piece is a letter that outlines exactly what I do each week to either bring in people during your slow times or help facilitate wait times during peak periods. Or both. If any of this interests you, call me at this number (point to number on the brochure) and we can schedule a free trial run. It doesn’t cost you anything at all, it’s just a way for you to see if I can deliver on my promises. Try before you buy. Don’t you wish you could do that with your employees?”

Then leave and as you walk out, write down the name of the person you spoke to so you don’t forget it. Also write down the phone number of the place (most GPS units will have that information as well, if not get it from the phone book or from the restaurant before leaving).

Now you have the ability to follow up with a phone call a week later.

This 1-2-3 combination of personal introduction, informative promotional literature, and a follow-up phone call is nearly irresistible.

It also puts you MILES ahead of anyone who is just doing a 3-step mailing campaign. And because you are doing it while you are driving that route anyway, it doesn’t cost you any extra gas and only 3-7 minutes of your time for each prospect you visit.

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At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Tommy Johns said...

What Julian describes is the way I have done this type of soft selling for several years, and it has really been effective in a variety of markets. Since you were not on their agenda when you dropped in, you really can't ask for more than 5 minutes of their time, though sometimes they want more.

I started doing this with daycares in the winter of 2002 for shows and magic workshops for the upcoming summer and it really paid off. I still am THE magician for many of those 2002 daycares, even though this is no longer my primary market, and most of the centers have changed management.

Add this idea to a combination of other marketing ideas (mailings, internet, conferences and more) really sets you apart from the competition. And it gives you a chance to make a good impression in person that your competition will not be doing!

Tommy Johns


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