Earning the Conversation


One of the skills of the best salesperson is getting people to talk to you. I have no right to expect busy business leaders to speak to me. Decision makers in busy organizations who are being approached by numerous salespeople do not have the time to talk with everyone who calls. Those who receive a lot of calls become very selective about whom they speak with and what they reveal. This is a common characteristic of buyers and executives in busy companies in competitive industries.

When one of my salespeople is having a hard time getting a hold of someone, I ask them, “how are you earning the conversation?”

  • How are you distinguishing yourself to the buyer?

  • Are you using all methods of communication; phone, emails, and regular mail?

  • Are you calling at different times?

  • Do you have a relevant and pertinent message for this person?

  • Are you embracing the challenge of getting a hold of someone?

In one of our recent projects, we sent out 30 toy trucks to buyers that we had been chasing for months and in some cases for years. Our client was a last-mile delivery trucking company and we were calling on some of the biggest retailers in the country. The logistics folks for these companies are involved in deciding on millions of dollars of business over many years. Literally, one contract can be worth tens of millions of dollars. These folks can be extremely difficult to reach and even when we did happen to reach them, many were quick to dismiss us.

The trucks were white, about six inches long by two inches high. They looked like a typical delivery truck and made a nice toy for a logistics professional to place on their shelf or bring home to their child. We placed our client’s logo and name on both side panels of the truck and included a letter tucked into the back of the truck that stated, “We will load out your Last-Mile, White-Glove delivery problems.” We also included a handwritten note that was tailored to each person.

The first week after we sent the trucks we earned our first meeting with a prospect we had been chasing for over a year. The next week we arranged two more meetings and the following week we earned yet another with a very high-value prospect. Each time we talked with these buyers, they mentioned the trucks. In fact, one actually called us to set a meeting.

This strategy worked because over a period of time we had been very consistent being persistent. The buyers knew who we were and why we were trying to reach them. The trucks broke through the busyness of their day and made an impression. We were communicating, “Hey blow us off, ignore us, don’t return our phone calls but we are going to still keep coming.” In effect, what we were saying is we are willing to earn the conversation which we did.

Professional selling at its best.