I recently came across a brilliant Forbes article titled “What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from a Door-to-door Pitchman” by Robert Jordan, and I felt I had to write something about the parallels about this piece has on the art of communicating with targeted sales leads. While his post has obviously been intended for entrepreneurs and is framed in the consumer marketing setting, I think most B2B lead generation folks can gain some very important lessons from his insights.
In the above article, Robert Jordan tells a story about his encounter with a door-to-door pitchman selling magazine subscriptions to vegetarians which he ended up taking despite being a non-vegetarian himself. How did this strange twist come about? The author attributes his decision to the skill and approach of the sales agent, something which anyone engaged in B2B lead generation appointment setting can and should learn by heart.
Here are the lessons that Mr. Jordan thinks can be drawn from this story:
1. Hook them in from the outset. When you’re delivering your message, it’s important to make sure that you’ve hooked your audience within the crucial first few seconds; otherwise, you’ll never be able to get through. Robert Jordan describes his pitchman as having the ability to immediately engage and maintain that level of engagement for the entire duration. In your own case, you should strive to reduce or eliminate any gap or waiting period between the start of your message and the main part.
2. Bring out the essence, not the nonsense. A key characteristic of the agent’s pitch in Mr. Jordan’s story is it had been refined to the point where only the essentials were included in the message. How many times have you lost the interest and attention of your marketing or sales audience because of too much details or excessive explanations? This happens in a lot of marketing messages that drown their listeners, readers, or viewers with nonsense instead of the essence.
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3. Appeal to the right side of the brain. Even in B2B situations, the brain’s right lobe should likewise be the target of your messaging strategies. Despite the buttoned-up, restrained culture that typifies B2B buyers, business prospects include emotional elements in their decision-making process as well. This means you really have to humanize your approach down to a more personal level and not focus purely on cold logic and reason.
4. Use your ears twice as much as your mouth. I think the most striking attribute that Mr. Jordan mentions about the same agent is the latter’s efforts at listening to what Mr. Jordan had to say. Not only did the salesman seemed to listen, but he actually appeared to hang on every word that Mr. Jordan uttered “as if his life depended on it.”
5. Qualify leads, not quantify them. Although this isn’t one of the points made by Mr. Jordan, this lesson is implied by his story. The real role lead generation specialists play is to qualify leads and not to acquire as many as humanly possible. The pitchman in Mr. Jordan’s article knew exactly when Mr. Jordan was about to turn into an opportunity and took the chance.
While door-to-door sales agents are probably one of your least likely sources of inspiration for converting commercial cleaning leads or software sales leads, the messaging approach that successful pitchmen follow is an immense piece of golden advice for you and your lead generation or conversion efforts. The main takeaway here is to have a conversation that’s centered on the world of your leads or prospects and not only on what you’re selling.