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2011-05-03 14:42:59

Let's Give Them Something to Talk About



The mouth is a mighty tool. Add a nice set of ears and keen desire to understand…it’s a force to be reckoned with.

Sure, the Internet is great, with all that SEO business, email, Facebook and linkage to here and there. After all, most people begin their home search on the computer, right?

That said, unless you exist as a series of wireless megabytes, it’s the live word that will typically make or break success with the client. Not the prerecorded podcast or slick video you just posted on You Tube. Quite simply, organic talk of the “you say, I listen—and likewise” variety.

Remember that?

Then why don’t we spend at least so much effort to upgrade our live speak ability as with electronic and print communication? Is it because tweets, wall posts and blogs are sexier than role-play or practicing on a lonely voice recorder?

Or…do you fear the reality of your communication competence?

Just asking.

Before you slam me with debate on the social culture of the 21st century, I will duly recognize that text, email, Facebook and Twitter changed the landscape. Instant response with more passive entry to a person’s space is the new expectation. Besides, it’s not always possible to pick up the phone or drop by, when you manage so many clients.  

Uh, you currently have “so many” clients, don’t you?

Yeah, yeah, it’s critical to be sensitive to a future customer’s preferred method of communication. After all, there are multiple choices—people don’t want to be interrupted. They may be with family, eating a meal, watching TV, surfing Facebook. You could very well annoy them.

Suggests those highly successful salespeople who actually do pick up the phone, call and then gain appointments must have a magical sense of timing.... or…

Just saying…

One thing I know for sure—these talk lovin’, life interuptin’, brave soul agents love it when you don’t call. Gives them an extra “at bat,” so to speak. With your prospect.

Go figure.

It is my belief and experience that every contact method—alternative to live talk is simply seduction…to gain the ultimate moment of pure connection. Defined: phone call or face-to-face must be the goal. Only when you are able to fully engage another human will you have full advantage.  

To close.

Whether closing for an appointment or simply gain permission to contact later—that’s what sales are about.

Closing. More closing. Repeat.

Despite that reality, why do countless sales professionals throw umpteen hours at that elusive chase for “the opening, yet fail to master closing skills? Carefully written blogs may consume the better part of a morning, until finally posted on cyberspace. Maybe a new group email is on the menu today? Crafted in a style that suggests personal message—mail merge the Hello Johns and Dear Bettys. After all, this long anticipated note from the neighborhood Realtor® will be delivered to 250 people who will devour every word…Right?

Maybe high quality paper materials are more your style. Expensive, but you will find a whole slew of post card producers (online, of course) who will tell you the value of your face, brand and ever so important info that simply must be mailed to your farm. How else will they hear about that free comparative market analysis? Or how many homes your office sold last week. Maybe ponder your cute little niche slogan—did anyone say BBS (Bored Buyer Specialist)? 

Of course there is the matter of your highly specialized and oh so important web site. Buzzy gurus, with catchy nicknames like “Captain Internet” or “Web Doctor,” will offer a free white paper. Once you download the PDF file, you will be given a day or so to read it. Then what happens?

Well, first of all, in order to get this most valuable info, you had to complete an online form. Required fields were name, email and…dum-de-dum-dum—Your phone number!

Okay, a day or so passes and guess what? Yes, a call is ringing—with an out of area number you don’t recognize. In hope that it’s a high dollar buyer who just read your blog on home staging, you answer, “Hello?” 

“Good morning!” the caller replies. “It’s a great day to be alive, isn’t it? Am I speaking to Mike Butson?”

“Uh, yeah, sure.”

“This is Matt Door from Ultimate Web Solutions. I’d like to thank you for visiting our website. Hope you found it helpful.  I also wanted to make sure you were able to download the White Paper. Blah, blah, blah”

Sound typical?

This is what impressed me though…the bait was in the marketing (opening), but the important contact was made on the telephone. And the delivery was certainly more engaging than a web page or video. At least it should have been...

Often, the lines are scripted and hollow, so I swiftly end the conversation. Other times, the caller will capture my attention and may even sell me something. Of course, there are times when no one calls at all. Perhaps they thought I’d be cross or put out. Likely, they are correct, but the absence of a call will all but guarantee the absence of my business.

Once again, why don’t we spend so much time to hone those conversation skills and call past clients, friends, family and business associates? The last time I asked this question, the answer disturbed me.

“Well Mike, I’m not always in the mood to talk to people and they usually don’t want to hear from me anyway…”

I had to take a moment, cause I almost choked on my coffee.

“Jill, Jill, Jill,” I said. “I appreciate that attitude, because much of my business communication starts with people who are not in the mood to hear from me. Sometimes that person is you. And yes, that can affect my attitude and shut me down. Is that how you feel?” 

“Exactly,” she said. “Starting with the part where I’m not in the mood to hear from you.”

With that, she brushed my hand and gave me a wink. Good thing—saved her from the breakfast bill. 

“Seriously,” she said. “I feel like I’m intruding on their space.”

“I get that Jill. No one likes to feel like a pest, right?” 

“Exactly,” she replied.

“Is that how you feel? Like a pest?”

“I hate it when salespeople bug me out of the blue. Especially when it’s someone I know. Makes me avoid them and I don’t want to be one of those

I paused to take a sip of coffee. The female food server caught my eye, nodded her head and shot a warm smile. As she ambled toward us, she made eye contact and smiled at each of the other customers. Lit up the room.

Now she stood before our table. “How about a warm-up on that coffee, you two? Just brewed a fresh batch.”

She turned to Jill, who seemed perturbed at the interruption and swiftly put her hand up to decline. With the same warm smile, this restaurant rep didn’t miss a beat. “I love how those earrings look on you. Just beautiful. May I ask where you bought them?”

“Uh, why thank you,” beamed Jill. “I found these at Thursday night Farmer’s Market. This gal travels all over and sells at fairs, special events and she does custom work. In fact…blah, blah----”

My guy mind soon lost track of the translation and I checked out the TV on the wall. A closed-caption episode of ‘Dukes of Hazard’ kept my attention.

The jewelry gabfest wore on 10 more minutes. Finally, it was over. “She was nice,” said Jill. “Did you know she sold Mary Kay?”

“Um, no.”

“I’ve been looking so long for a good rep and she is on the ball. I’m calling some of the girls at work to see if they’d like to set up a party.”

I started to drift off again, but suddenly it hit me. With a big grin, I asked, “Did you see what she did?”

Jill looked puzzled, but quickly her mouth erupted to a broad smile.

I love it when things click.

This food server /Mary Kay salesperson just gave my agent a lesson that hours of coaching would never achieve. A casual conversation began in a random setting. Within 10 minutes, an appointment was secured. Even sealed with a hug and that secret laugh thing, which only women understand.

I wonder if a mailer, postcard, twitter post or web site could compete with those results?

Something to blog, uh, er…even better—something to talk about.

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