Knives for Neighbors (Issue 456)

In which we are reminded about the power of referrals and associations to accelerate contact with prospects. “They’re great knives,” my newly trained son intoned. “Here, let me show you.” And with that, he was off and cutting, working us through his demonstration. “…And if you need them sharpened, you send them back to the factory and they sharpen them for you, all you pay is postage, it’s a sharp edge forever…. So, which ones would you like?”

To earn some money during his winter break, my son signed on with Vector Marketing, an outfit that trains and manages a part-time work force of people who sell Cutco knives. They are great knives, no doubt about it after you watch someone cut through a half-inch thick rope with one stroke.

He began his presentation with a very brief overview of the knives and the company and then…. just amazing … he turned the page to reveal and talk about a document showing what HE would get, as a sales person, if he achieved certain sales goals.

I snapped my head up, switching my focus from the page in his loose leaf notebook to my son’s face. He smiled at me and kept going.

What a prospecting strategy! After a few days of training, Vector Marketing had guided him to make his first presentation to his parents (which, by the way, he didn’t do, we were the sixth presentation because our schedules were so busy). After that, he was instructed to create a prospect list of family members and friends and approach them by telephone – “I have a new job and I’m wondering if I could come and make a presentation to you to practice, you don’t have to buy anything”). And then, after making each presentation, to ask each person for ten referrals.

And, they bought. And referred. All of the people to whom my son presented knew him or his parents well. Most of the people to whom my son presented had heard of the knives. Some owned Cutco knives and wanted more. Some purchased them as presents for others. To some extent they bought because the knives are terrific. Mostly, they bought because he was selling to them and they were supportive. They wanted him to do well.

While I don’t feel good about Vector’s appointment-setting phone script, the power of association with or referral from a known, trusted, respected party is TRULY impressive whether we’re selling knives, nuts, or NACHA services. If he had been attempting to enroll people in our community in presentations by cold calling names he pulled from the telephone directory, I suspect his outcomes would have been far less impressive.

Never mind, I’m very excited about using my two new carving knifes next Thanksgiving.

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