Customers will ask, but never agree to send the package

by John Ribbler on October 30, 2012 · 4 comments

Send brochures is a useless activity

Placing this sign in mail rooms of sales departments would cut the waste of material and time involved with sending brochures to every prospective customer who asks for one.

Whether you are selling, promoting, fund-raising, seeking investors or in any way trying to get a decision maker to meet with you, you know the line:

“Send me a package that I can check out before we set up a meeting.”

This may encourage you (I used to see it as a win) especially if the response comes after weeks or months of unreturned calls and sparring with a gatekeeper. You agree to the request hoping your impressive dossier will cement the face-to-face.

DON’T AGREE! DON’T SEND THE PACKAGE! You may get one meeting for every 10 packages sent. Otherwise, you have messed up a chance to ever get the meeting. This is the time to swing for the fences; all or nothing.

If you are one of those sales people (order takers) who always does “what the customer wants” and thinks one meeting out of 10 mailings is fine, stop reading now. But, if you know there must be a better way, I am going share a tactic for countering this common brush off.

You won’t get an A (or a B) if you don’t do your homework

The only catch is that you have to do homework. Before you call anyone, find the compelling, unique way that person needs you. If you cannot identify how you can solve this person’s (company’s) problems better than anyone else, take him or her off your list.

For those who know your competitive edge, here’s a letter I wrote for a marketing agency and the chain that followed. Use it as a template for dealing with the “send me the package first” request.

This example is about a large independent real estate company that needed my client’s help. (Even though they didn’t yet know it.) The prospect’s director of marketing, who had repeatedly refused an introductory meeting, had just resigned and my client got referred to the executive vice president.

Pay attention to every word

I was asked to help after the EVP left this voice mail message in reply to my client’s first call.

“Thank you for contacting us. Al Richman’s recommendation is like gold to us so I wanted to get back with you right away. Losing our marketing director is forcing us to focus internally and strengthen the department.

“We have a great relationship with our current agency and will be relying on them much more. Because Al spoke so highly of you, we want to consider how you can help us. We have an executive committee meeting once each week. If you send me a package about your company, I’ll make sure our leadership team reviews it carefully. That would be the best first step.”

Although the EVP’s response was a sincere way to respect Al Richman’s advice, we knew that sending the package would effectively shut the door. Instead, we sent the following e-mail:

brochure_size_shape_doesn't_matter

SIZE & SHAPE DON'T MATTER Although brochures are folded many ways, as this chart shows, they do not confirm meetings or close sales.


“Thank you for replying to my note and sharing your thoughts. Al and I agreed that internal focus must be your priority. Overhauling both your internal and external marketing functions would not be prudent.

“At the same time, the challenges facing independent realtors are unique and growing. Because my team members have mostly been on your side of the fence, we specialize in helping companies like yours in ways above and beyond traditional advertising and marketing agencies. (Indeed, your agency is one of the best.) That is why the time may be right for us to get to know each other.

“Your offer to review our credentials is especially generous. However, within the same time commitment that your group’s impersonal review would need — perhaps less — I can visit with the executive committee and we will get a much more valuable mutual understanding. Or perhaps, you and I could meet for 30 minutes or so as an initial first step to decide where (in the future) we can help.

“Let me share a few of the results we have delivered for Benjamin Franklin Realty in California.

“Our online marketing delivers 78% of their residential revenue. We know it because we track every action that occurs from inquiry to closing, web conversions, phone calls, downloads, etc.

“Website Traffic: 2011 — 2,6873,000 visits. Pacing to exceed this in 2012

“Most independent realtors your size record fewer than 500,000 visits per year. In fact, Benjamin Franklin is outperforming some California MLS regions. Traffic last year increased 94% over 2010 and 194% over 2009.

“Online Engagement: 4.64 pages/visit, 5:30 length of visit, Over all Bounce rate 33.5% (27.2% homepage)

“Search Engine Marketing 2012: $3,438,000 YTD – 49 to 1 ROI

“You may agree that the long-term potential for us to increase revenues and profits merits a brief personal meeting now, as you consider the best way to organize internally.

“Best regards,”

Within 10 minutes of sending that e-mail, my client received the following response:

“Sounds very interesting…In terms of a meeting, what is your availability?”

Most professional sales people (as well as untrained “persuaders,” which includes most of us) are taught to accept openings offered and avoid confrontation. But, mediocre results satisfy most people.

For those who want to do better than everyone else, this example — of how to politely and strategically argue with the customer — might be worth $1 million. That was the value of the contract my client’s agency won within 45 days of scheduling that first meeting.

  • http://www.carlaplouin.com cplouin

    Ha! you are so right! I always ask for a package because if I feel the need for one it clearly means the sales rep hasn’t done the prep work! Bulls-eye Mr. Ribbler! ?

  • John Cannon

    John, I agree with you. The “send me the package” reply is a nice way for potential customers to say “no” without having to really say no. I really like your email reply. Nice.

    • http://ribblog.com John Ribbler

      Thanks John, It took me more than 20 years to finally decide that “sending the package” is a waste of time. (Of course there are exceptions.) Sales will always be a numbers game to a certain extent, but if you spend more time getting to really know about a smaller, well defined, number of people, you’ll be more profitable and find your challenges more enjoyable.

  • Pingback: Sales Enablement: What do you do when a prospect asks to see your brochure before scheduling a face-to-face? - Quora()

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