Blog Archive

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Gathering Contact Information

As we have covered in previous articles, integrity selling is relationship selling.  You should work toward building solid relationships with your customers and prospects because people that know you, like you, and trust you will buy from you.  Not only that, but they will also send a steady stream of pre-qualified referrals your way. 

The first and most important step in setting up a relationship building system is effectively gathering contact information. Let’s face it, it is impossible to build a relationship if you do not know how to contact the folks in question, right? 

Interestingly, there is a lot of fear that surrounds this very necessary step in relationship selling.  Salespeople, unless they are at a stage of the selling process where asking for contact information would seem necessary to the completion of a sale, are often afraid to ask!  For example, you are a sales professional working at a jewelry store in the mall.  Someone comes in to look at watches, let’s say.  He is really just looking (according to him), or killing time, or whatever, but there he is trying on watches at your store.  There is a reason he is there and, whether he knows it or not, it’s to buy a watch. 

Now, the first order of business with this prospect is, of course, to sell him a watch while he is there.  Does that always happen? Of course not. He is about to become a potential “be-back,” in sales parlance.  Those of you that have been in sales any length of time certainly know what a low-percentage game waiting on the “be-back bus” to arrive is.  Chances are good that, left with a pleasant farewell and a business card, you will never see this guy again. 

Now what?  How do you significantly increase the odds that you will sell this fellow a watch?  You get his complete contact information.  How do you do it? You simply ask. That’s all. When I say complete, I mean name, phone number (ask if it is his cell or home number), mailing address and email address. 

Now, there is a trick to this.  To alleviate any angst you might feel when asking for this personal information, try it like this. We shall hope that you have left no question in the prospects mind that it is your intention to sell him a watch.  Right before the goodbyes, say “Mr. Johnson, I am going to make you an official prospect and put your name in my book. Isn’t that exciting?” Needless to say, produce your book at this time, prepare to write – and never look back up from that book!  That part is very important.  “Let’s see, that was Tom Johnson, right?” Don’t look up. “What’s the best number to reach you, Tom?” Don’t look up –especially not now. No matter how long the pause is, keep your pen to paper and your eyes on that book. This is the moment where he is trying to figure out how not to give you this information. If you look up, you lose. If he give’s you his number, you have won. Now continue, “And what is your mailing address?” If you have gotten this far, you are home free. You might as well go for the gold, the email address: “And, Tom, these days it is so much more convenient to stay in touch by email. May I have your email address?” There it is. You have all of his contact information because you did not look at him once during that entire process. 

Very rarely, you will have a prospect decline to give you their information, and that’s okay.  Accept their position graciously. When done exactly like this, that almost never happens. 

About “the book.”  It need be nothing fancy. I use a simple spiral-bound notebook from the dollar store. Be sure and leave at least a couple of lines below his contact information for you to write notes.  In certain selling situations, you may have to use something other than your book. Car sales comes to mind. You are not showing cars carrying around a book. Use the back of your business card, if need be. Then transfer the information to your book after the customer leaves. 

Armed with this information, you have improved your odds of closing every prospect from one in ten to one in three, or better. 

By the way, don’t lose the book. 

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by Kevin Connell