At last, thought Tim, I’ve finally gotten past the secretary screen.
“Hello, this is Ms. Freed. I understand you might have something I would be interested in.”
“Yes, I do,” responded Tim with enthusiasm.
After a pause of a few seconds, “Well, what might that be?” she asked.
“I understand that you are in the market for the products and services my company offers, and I’d like to make an appointment to discuss it with you.”
“That’s nice, but I don’t know just what it is that your company offers.”
“Well, we have a complete range of products and services that can significantly affect your bottom line.”
“Well...could you do something for me?” she asked.
“Of course,” answered Tim, “Anything.”
“Before we talk further, I really need you to send some literature about what you offer. Could you do that?”
Tim sensed that getting the appointment was slipping away.
“I think it would be better if I could stop by and spend a few moments going over the literature.”
“Tell you what,” she said, “You send me some literature, and I’ll call you after I review it.”
“Promise?” asked Tim.
“It’s a promise. You send it over, I’ll look at it and get back to you.”
“I’ll get it out this afternoon. And thank you.” Tim put down the phone and jotted down that this prospect was warm.
Everyone who is selling anything has been in this situation over and over again. And, unfortunately, 99 percent of those selling have tons of literature for just this occasion when the prospect requests it. And 99 percent of the literature that is sent out to prospects never gets read nor is an appointment ever made. The salesperson has the illusion that something is going to happen. What really happened is that the prospect got rid of another salesperson that got past the secretary screen.
There will be the argument that if you don’t send the literature, you might be missing out on a potential sale. “If I don’t send it, my competitor will.”
Start keeping track of how many people actually purchase something from you, when the first step in the sale was sending literature. If you are consistent in tracking this, you will find the number is very low.
If the prospect cannot spend fifteen minutes in person telling you what he needs, sending literature is like throwing a pail of water into the desert hoping it lands on a plant.
You are in total control of whether or not you agree to send literature. There is no reason that you should unless you know exactly why the prospect needs it and exactly what is going to happen once the prospect has it. The only way you can learn these two things is to ask, ask, ask until you get answers.
Tim has no idea why he is sending literature other than he can write down in his that he has a warm one. Tim is deluding himself into thinking that something might happen.
Unless you have a thorough understanding of what the person is looking for, and a firm commitment from the person to do something once he has the literature, don’t waste your time.
“Send me some literature” is the same thing as “I already gave at the office.”
The prospecting landscape is littered with pitfalls and traps that claim many sellers. If you’re not careful, you may succumb to them as well.
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