A few months ago, I was enjoying a pleasant afternoon at home with my front door thrown wide open. Not only did it facilitate a lovely cross breeze, but it also allowed my kids free access to do laps around the house. Everyone was in good humor and even I; the perpetually stressed mother-of-three-work-at-home mom was relaxed and cheerful.
I had just stood up from my desk headed to the kitchen for a snack when he stuck his head in my open door. He was scruffy-looking at best, ratty-looking at worst.
“Hello!” he said.
I froze, wondering where in Hades had he come from, but recovering quickly I smiled and said hello back. I wondered if he was there to rob me or pitch me, a fair question for the door-to-door types that inhabit the world we live in today.
Luckily he was pitching that day, for frozen meat as it turns out. It was a product I didn’t expect. Oddly enough he had my attention because as a mother-of-three-work-at-home-mom I rarely have my larders as stocked as I would like. Normally I hustle these types of sales calls away as quickly as possible, but today based on my good humor and the fact that he literally had a foot in the door, I let him continue.
His pitch was enticing: seafood, beef, and pork delivered to my door, frozen and individually wrapped for as little as $3.99 a pound. It sounded good although I still had a healthy dose of skepticism about buying meat door-to-door. So I did the worst thing ever; I asked a question. Within seconds, a rattier, sketchier fellow was at the first scruffy guy’s side with a creepy smile and a flimsy business card; aka “The Supervisor.” He was smarmier than a paperback romance novel and oilier than pork he was trying to pass off as high quality.
Considering my description of the events so far it should be obvious that I ended up buying the meat, right?
I know. To be honest, I am as surprised as you are that I bought it. When I look back on this, I feel exactly like the first Igloo-dwelling native American must have felt after buying a truckload of ice from sales representatives based out of Walla-Walla, Washington.
What We Can Learn about Sales from the Meat Guys:
Timing is everything.
Prospects are going to have times when they are receptive and times when they wouldn’t be interested in solid gold bricks for $5. Regarding the Meat Guys, you could say everyone is a sucker if you catch them at the right moment.
Like I said before, I was relaxed. It was a beautiful afternoon of harmony and productivity with happy children and happy mommy enjoying each other’s company. All this bliss and tranquility made me soft. I forgot my usual pejorative dismissal of door-to-door salespeople.
Have great collateral material that reflects the quality of your business.
Collateral material is essential to making your business look legit. It makes an impression and becomes an extension of your brand. Moreover, it gives the customer something tangible to read later with your unique selling proposition and contact information. Despite a general move to digital collateral, printed material is still important to many people when making a buying decision.
In this case, the Meat Guys’ cruddy, poorly designed and written brochure helped me convince myself that they were above board. The facts that they had no website, no local phone number, and a general nefarious appearance were nullified by the trifold, full-color brochure printed on the flimsiest paper stock ever made and handed to me with sweaty, shaky hands.
Get the product in the prospect’s hands.
In a previous post about Green Eggs and Ham, I mentioned how Sam, the pleasantly persistent sales rep for the Unfortunately Colored Ham Company gets the product into his prospect’s hands, which eventually gets the yes. This tactic is great, particularly when you have a great product. The Meat Guys know this, too, so they wasted no time in unpacking boxes of meat right on my kitchen floor.
Seeing the individually portioned meat strewn about the linoleum had two effects. First, that it was a variety of meat that didn’t look weird or gross (that is until you thaw it out). Second, that I would feel awkward telling them to beat it and then have to stand there in uncomfortable silence while they packed up the multitude of boxes and left.
Have clear payment options.
If your prospect is considering your product, be sure to make clear how they can buy it, and make sure the options are easy. So, in other words, payment options for the average consumer should never include money orders or wire transfers.
The Meat Guys were accommodating to the extreme. All I had to do was write a check, leave the “To” line blank and include my driver’s license number. Simple enough, right? Not the least bit fishy. Heck, maybe I should include my social security number and answers to my favorite security questions while I am at it?
The experience matters.
Your prospect should have a good experience with your transaction. They should feel comfortable and safe. They should feel they got a good value for their money and a new vendor on which they can rely to deliver a quality product.
As a completely nonspecific example, they shouldn’t lay awake at night for hours terrified that they just handed over their identity to be sold on the black market of an Eastern Block country to finance the shopping spree of a diabolical dopplegänger with a penchant for expensive home sports equipment and Jimmy Choo shoes. Or wonder if that stomachache she feels coming on is a result of an acute stress attack or the early signs of food poisoning.
Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” I agree with this. We should try new things. I tried the new thing of buying meat from the back of someone’s truck. It should be apparent based on this decision that apart from a mutual appreciation for trying new things, Einstein and I have nothing else in common!
Needless to say, I won’t be a repeat customer. If I ever saw those guys in my neighborhood again, I would heave one of my weapons-grade crab stuffed filets of sole to get their attention, march out to their low-riding meat wagon, and…ask them if they want me to rewrite their brochure! Just kidding. Their brochure is perfect brand experience for their business–flimsy, tacky, and low quality.
Since I would argue that most of you have a better gig than distributing questionable meat products from the back of your truck, you already have a leg up on the Meat Guys. Sales are as much about timing, presentation and tactics as anything. Those that seize the opportunity get the sale (seizing opportunity, like stopping your car in the middle of a residential street, leaving the door flung wide, and barging through an open door to startle the inhabitants into listening to your pitch). While I don’t like their product or the experience, I do see the genius in their system. To the Meat Guys, I say simply well played.
And also for next time…No Thank You!
Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at http://www.terrilively.com.
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