Me: Hello, Nick Miller speaking.
Him: Hello, Mr. Miller. Bob Smith from Bob Smith Painting. Will you speak with me for a minute?
Me: Sure, Bob, what prompts you to call?
Him: I’m wondering whether you’re planning any interior painting this winter. We do good work in tight spaces to save you time. (Notice: a question about the future combined with a benefit statement.)
Me: No, Bob, thanks, we’re a few years away from that.
Him: Great. (Pause). So what are you planning for exterior painting or maintenance in the spring? We work quickly and we’re very careful. Do you have plans? (Notice again: A question about the future with a benefit statement.)
Me: No, we’re about four years into the current paint job. It’ll be another couple of years before we’re ready to do anything.
Him: Good, I’ll make sure to call you back about that and your interior work. (Pause) Do you know about any neighbors who might be considering some painting or exterior washing?
When was the last time you took a cold call from a painter who nailed you down like this? Thirty seconds, three questions. He’s got my dates in his calendar and I have no doubt he’ll call me back. Notice he didn’t pitch a product. He offered me two benefit statements and asked about the future… and for an introduction.
At that point, I asked him:
Me: Bob, how many hits do you get when you’re calling like this?
Him: If I took six months off, I could call one or two hours a day, and I’d be working in two weeks. If I call 20 – 30 minutes a day every day during the winter, I have so much work for the summer I could stop calling in April.
Me: Are you kidding?
Him: No, and I’ll tell you something else. Other painters don’t do this the way I do. They hire a grade C telemarketer, they make a round of calls, and then they stop. I do this all the time. By the way, what do you do?
This… is no ordinary painter. He lives in an expensive condo in a nice part of town. Turns out that, in an earlier life, he was a “tin man,” selling aluminum siding and vinyl siding. He learned to make calls.
After I tell him a little about my consulting practice, to make a long story short, he says:
Him: “Listen, Mr. Miller, you’re telling me that some of the salespeople you work with are reluctant to make cold calls? I’ll come and speak to them. First time is free, after that, we negotiate a price. How does that sound?”
Me: Great, Bob, I’ll think about it. This has been a very inspiring call. Call me back, any time.
Two days later, the Bob calls me again. “Mr. Miller, I have a client in the mortgage banking business. He’s in charge of their sales force. I wonder whether you do any work in that area. I’d be happy to introduce you. Maybe you could help him with his sales force.”
If nothing else, I will remember Bob when I need painting.
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