Tag Archives: sales medium

Qualifying a Customer? Give Something Away

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:
“Free Bagels”

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?

Commercial Perfection

Have you seen the new Perrier commercial?

This is really brilliant stuff, especially when held up next to much of what is being aired these days. If you’ve seen it in context, meaning on TV, it really stands out from the commercials on either side of it. Why? you may ask, what makes it so appealing? Let me suggest three simple elements:

1) It Understands the Medium:

Television is a visual medium. The visuals of all the melting landscape and props are artistic candy. Watch the actors as they interact with their melting surroundings…great stuff. There is a trend in commercials today to be more reliant on audio, the thought being that people are headed to the fridge with their back turned to the tube so we better give them an audio message. This piece is purely visual communication. Walk to the fridge with your back turned and you won’t know what the commercial is about but watch it, and you’re captivated.

2) It Tells a Story:

We’re drawn in early on to the mystery of why stuff is melting. We shown the main character with a look of confusion approaching panic. She moves toward resolution and then the story arc peaks as the bottle falls off the ledge, a moment of high tension. We get it, we know where this is headed because we’ve seen it before but the piece is so artistically done, the story so visually well told, that we follow it anyway.

3) It Resolves on the Product:

The moment we see the “heroine” drink deeply in the pool we think, or at least I thought, “refreshment”. No slogan is spoken, no print on the screen, but the idea is clear, and more importantly, it is centered on the product. Not the funny person in the video, not the comedic climax, not the tag line, the product. We’re given one word “Perrier” and we provide our own tag line, highly personalized, subconsciously.

What are the places in life where you are trying, or have to try, to convince people to do something, or try something, or decide something? Do your “commercials” understand the medium in which you’re presenting your idea? Do you have a story to tell? DO you focus on “the product”? The thing you want them to choose?

It may be trying to get your kids out of bed in the morning. It may be trying to convince a friend to start exercising with you. It may be trying to sell your boss on a new idea. How can you leverage these three elements to convince your audience in a more compelling way?