Reasons to Meet (Issue 490)

In which we are reminded that we can generate reasons for prospects to pay attention to us when we approach. We’ve just received notice that a local “light opera” company is planning to perform the musical, The Music Man, in a few weeks time.

I absolutely L O V E  the show. The songs are terrific, including “Good Night my Someone” and “Lyda Rose.” But the absolute BEST part is watching Professor Harold Hill sell.

Long story short, salesman/con man Professor Harold Hill (seller of boys’ band instruments and uniforms to unsuspecting small town folk in the Midwest, circa 1912) steps off the train in River City, Iowa, intending to cheat the community with his standard scam of offering to equip and train a boys’ marching band, then skip town. The high-moraled folk of River City are none too welcoming. As he’s becoming familiar with the town, he muses, “We’ve got to find a reason for these people to want a band.” That reason comes in the form of a recently arrived pool table that, before Hill, hadn’t attracted much attention. However, Professor Hill builds his case from the presence of a pool table:

“Well, either you’re closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge. Or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community.”

He creates a compelling chain of logic, linking the pool table to the downfall and degradation of the town children, concluding his pitch:

“Oh, we got trouble. Right here in River City. With a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for ‘pool.’ We surely got trouble. Right here. Gotta figure out a way to keep the young ones

moral after school.”

So how does this help us? We don’t use such “old tyme” rousing sales pitching approaches these days, do we?

Last week, I received a solicitation letter from a financial services company. In a big box, at the upper right corner, the letter said, “What’s Your Number…Now?” , referring to amount of money I would need to put aside to “retire,” whatever that means at this point. Which was their point, I think!

Same as Professor Hill, the bank focused on something I’ve not paid attention to recently, something I hadn’t been worried about last week, and with a big box, picture, and fancy letters told me that there was trouble coming, that I’d better wake up and recognize it, and that I’d be missing out if I didn’t take action right now, right now, this second. “What’s Your Number….Now?”

So, let’s follow their lead to our leads.

As we reach for our telephones to call unsuspecting prospects who were heretofore minding their own business, having a nice day, let’s perk them up a bit – stimulate some demand, identify a situation they should open their eyes to acknowledge, point out a disaster about which they are not aware, craft a chain of logic that leads to opportunity or safety – so they stop what they’re doing RIGHT NOW and listen.

Look around, I’ll bet you can find situations and disasters everywhere – rising prices, falling demand, increasing costs, falling exchange rates, increased regulation, ballooning litigation, increased pressure from insurance companies, consolidating industries, increasing obesity, falling fish stocks – right here, right now in River City. No better reason to get together and talk.

Professor Hill offered up a boys marching band in response to the threat of the pool table and certain moral degradation. We too must come up with a solution. Whatever we choose as the reason to meet – the falling prices, the rising demand, the increasing regulation – then there’s something we can offer, some idea we can bring, that will help resolve it and move our prospects along their way toward their goals.

Just as professor Hill had to find a pool table or other threat in each town that he entered, so we must find a compelling reason, something of vital interest to the prospect we’re approaching so that we can position our solution as the remedy.

The key is the reason to meet that starts the conversation.

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