I was asked an interesting question at lunch today:
“Curtis, when you’ve been in charge of managing sales process has there been a set of questions you use to qualify customers to figure out if they’re a legitimate prospect or not?”
I had to pause and think about that one. I’ve been in places that have deployed nearly every sales methodology known to man and some invented by alien beings. I’ve created branding, campaign messaging, and go to market strategies. I have certainly created marketing pieces designed to generate interest and response but qualifying questions? Hmmm…
In sifting through the nearly non-relational, free associated, database that is my mind I lit on the answer I was searching for:
Years ago, when Einstein Brothers Bagels opened in Denver they had a policy of giving everyone who came into the store a free bagel. Not sure if they still do this today or not but back IN the day they did. At the time I was just building a web design business and my partner and I decided the notion of the “free bagel” would be a part of every site we designed.
If we were doing a web site for an author we suggested giving away a sample chapter. If we were doing a site for a speaker we wanted a sound or video file available (This was the early 90’s so video on the web was virtually unheard of kids). When we did a site for a builder of custom golf clubs we suggested a free putter grip replacement. Why you ask? Because of the 3 mystical benefits of the free bagel.
1. You find out who is interested.
People who don’t like bagels won’t even take one for free so there has to be interest on their part enough to make them take one. In distributing your free bagel you want to be sure you capture contact information, a minimal ask in return for something of value. If they won’t give you that then they aren’t really interested.
If they do give you that contact information they’ve as much as said, “I’m interested enough to tell you who I am and I have opened the door to conversation at LEAST about the free bagel you just gave me.” Open doors are good, conversations are even better.
In effect the taker of the free bagel is self qualifying.
2. You whet the appetite.
The free bagel allows you to establish credibility with a sample of your product or service. You’re no longer trying to hawk what you do, you’re putting the proof in the pudding, even if it is only a small sample pudding.
By attaching a clear secondary response mechanism to your free bagel, contact us, come into the store, come get your free grip etc you create a channel through which your prospect can continue to self identify.
If they’re NOT self identifying your bagel is no good, or they don’t know it is there.
3. You establish a foundation for relationship
Too many purveyors of goods and services want to talk about themselves. By giving something away at the front end you establish that you’re more concerned with the customer and meeting their need than you are about “differentiating yourself through a unique set of features and functions”.
You’re providing customer service before they are even a customer. It does set the bar high sure, and you need to be ready to live up to the commitment, but you’re building relational capital right out of the shoot.
People love to try before they buy, free bagels let them sample the goods.
What opportunities do you have to provide free bagels that will help qualify potential customers?