081808 Now It’s Garbage

In which we urge quality over volume in prospecting approaches. In the 1968 movie, "The Odd Couple," Walter Mathau plays Oscar, a slovenly sportswriter, and Jack Lemmon plays Felix, his neurotic, obsessive compulsive friend who moves in with Oscar after Felix’s divorce. The two don't fit well together,

and there comes a moment when Oscar has just HAD IT with Felix. Felix is sitting at Oscar’s poker table, eating a dinner he has just carefully prepared. Oscar is sitting in the living room of the apartment, facing away from Felix, not speaking to him. (See the scene at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDXSXkYoM5Y )

Felix (sighing, folding his napkin): "Alright, how long is this going to go on?"

Oscar: "Are you talking to me?"

Felix: "Yeah, I’m talking to you."

Oscar: "What do you want to know?"

Felix: "I want to know whether you’re going to spend the rest of your life not talking to me. And, if you are, I’m going to get a radio."

Oscar (rising from his living room chair): "You had your chance to talk last night. I begged you …………(Reaches into his pocket.) Here…. Here’s a key to the back door. Now, you stick to the hallway and your room and you won’t get hurt."

Felix: "Meaning what?"

Oscar: "Meaning… if you want to live here, I don’t want to see you, I don’t want to hear you, and I don’t want to smell your cooking. Now, kindly remove that spaghetti from my poker table.

Felix: (Quiet, smug, "You’re such an imbecile" laugh.)

Oscar: "What the hell is so funny?"

Felix. (continues laughing) "It’s not spaghetti. It’s l i n g u i n i."

Oscar: (Picks up the bowl of linguini, carries it into the kitchen, and heaves it against the kitchen wall, breaking the plate. Some noodles and sauce stick to the wall. Most falls away to the floor.) "Now, it’s garbage."

For the most part, this is how prospects view seller attempts to start conversations with them:

Seller: (Sends buyer a snappy chatter email.)

Buyer: "Are you talking to me?"

Sellers: "Yeah, I’m talking to you."

Buyer: "What do you want to know?"

Seller: "I want to know whether you’re going to buy this product or have a conversation with me."

Buyer: "You had your chance….. Here… here’s the number of the purchasing department. You stick to the elevator and the purchasing department and you won’t get hurt. Now, kindly remove my name from your mailing list and stop sending me c***.

Seller: "It’s not c***. It’s great ideas."

Buyer (dragging the email to the Trash/Recyle Bin): "Now, it’s garbage."

The prevailing philosophy of prospecting is: Make a lot of calls; see how many appointments we can get. This is the basis for "call nights," and "call blitzes" and "call lists" and "mass mailings" and "blast faxes" and "blast emails." 90% or more of these prospecting noodles and sauce end up on the floor. Garbage….

Why? Because they’re not personal or tailored in any way. Because their offerings are, by necessity, general and qualified by the fine print, as in "Your results may differ, but let’s have a conversation so we can see whether we can save you any money or time." Garbage.

Better idea: Invest some of that “dialing for dollars” time in research. Learn something about the industry or company before you call. The First Research service is a terrific source of information about industry conditions and trends. Searching the web or networking to elicit information about a company before you call them adds more power. Three examples:

Approach 1 (generic): We’re offering great prices on service or product X. Let’s meet next week so I can understand your business and recommend some ideas that may help you save time and money using this product.

Approach 2 (industry information (good), and ‘generic’ offer (not so good) ): More than 40% of dentists are considering or have already taken steps to expand their practices with cosmetic dentistry services that are not restricted by insurance company guidelines. We have helped more than 30 dentists in the area expand their practices. Let’s meet next week so I can understand your business and recommend some ideas that may help you.

Approach 3 (uses specific personal information with a tailored offer): Dr. Smith, I understand you are considering expanding your practice to include more cosmetic dentistry. Since more than 40% of dentists are considering or offering these services, we’ve developed a list of ten critical best practices drawn from dentists who have already added these services. Would you like to hear what our clients have learned? If so, let’s pick a time to meet and I’ll share them with you.

No guaranty that Dr. Smith will respond to Approach 3, and the odds are SIGNIFICANTLY higher for Approach 3 than they are for Approach 2, which shows some effort to be relevant, or Approach 1 which is…. garbage.

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