Scary Specifics (Issue 558)

In which we are reminded to provide credible, specific consequences and benefits to action when we’re playing the “fear and uncertainty” card to book an appointment with a prospect.

Some people collect Royal Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plates.  Some people collect stamps.  I collect prospecting voice mail messages.

Why is that?  Well, from time to time, to think, “Gosh, I should really call that guy back,  I think I might be interested now,”  and from time to time to provide Monday lessons.

Today’s lesson, BE SPECIFIC,  comes from a payroll services company.  At the time I received this voice mail, we were one of their customers and hey were, essentially, cold calling me to introduce a new service. Here’s how it went:

Hey, Nick. How are you doing? It’s Bob Smith from Colonial Payroll calling, and I work on the HR  human resource compliance side of things over here and over the next few weeks, they’ve asked me to meet with our current small businesses  to do a kind of a review, a  2012 review, related to the recent changes in Federal and State requirements, take a look at the Department of Labor, OSHA compliance, and  I am up in your area on the 24th of February, I thought I might be able to come in and sit with you for 20 minutes or so, bring you up to speed on some of the things going on out there.  Phone number is 978-369-4755. Again, it’s Bob from Colonial Payroll. 978-369-4755.

So, he’s playing the “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt” card here.  “Department of Labor” and “OSHA Compliance” certainly catch my attention [I don’t like the idea of starting my day hearing, “Hi, we’re from OSHA and we’re here to help you.”] but…. not compelling enough to get him an appointment.

However, he could have boosted the amperage a little with something more specific like this:

“Nick, Bob Smith, Colonial Payroll. 978-369-4755.  I help our payroll clients avoid fines and  court settlements from violations of Federal and state labor laws. You won’t believe this,  a local business owner recently paid a six figure settlement when he was sued by a former employee after he fired her. He made the right business decision. She won the lawsuit. He didn’t have  proper written Employee Manuals. He couldn’t believe it. To him, it seemed completely random… and it isn’t.  It’s the reality of the current environment. 20 minutes with me can help you with that and other penalties. No charge. Phone is fine. Face to face is better. I know you’d probably prefer to ignore this. Don’t take the chance. Let’s pick a time. 20 minutes now can save you time and aggravation later. Bob Smith. 978-369-4755. Please call now.”

Same number of words. Bigger “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” The idea is: “Department of Labor and OSHA” are big, puffy generalities unless you’re already in trouble with them.  Noticeable but not compelling.  “Six figure settlement” and “proper written employee manual” are specific and it’s almost unbelievable that an employee could have won the suit for lack of an Employee Manual. Who would have thunk it?  The ideas  send the mind scurrying – do we have one, is it in compliance, are we protected?

So, when we’re playing “fear, uncertainty, and doubt,”  the more specific and scary the consequences, the  more arcane or unexpected the danger (thus, calling for an expert),  and the easier the potential relief or first step,  the more powerful the approach.


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