When you’re in “inside” sales, customers come to you.
When you’re in “outside” sales, you go looking for customers.
When I was a baby ad-man in outside sales, I had the good fortune to spend a day with Gene Chamberlain. He taught me three things that day that made me a lot of money. Today I’m going to teach those things to you.
A: When You’re in Outside Sales, You’ve Got to Prune Your Account List.
There are only 24 hours in the day and no way to get any more. Outside salespeople run out of time long before they run out of opportunity.
If you’re in outside sales, this is how to prune your account list:
- Look at your total billing for the past 12 months.
- Divide that dollar amount by the number of accounts on your list.
- This will give you an “average annual yield” per account.
- Give away every account that spent less than that amount with you last year.
- Sell no new accounts that are going to spend less than that amount with you this year.
- When you run out of time again, repeat this exercise.
- Follow these steps and you’ll see your sales volume spiral higher and higher.
B: Always Add, “Which Means…”
No matter how well we understand features and benefits, we too often name a feature and assume our prospective customer knows the benefits. What I’m about to teach you will increase the impact of your sales presentations and the effectiveness of your ad copy, even when your customer does already understand the benefits of the feature you named.
Always add “which means…” after every feature you name. You can add these words verbally, or you can add them silently, but this habit will bridge you into language the customer can see in their mind.
“This blade is made of Maxamet steel which means you’ll never have to sharpen it.”
“This is a 52-week schedule which means your name will become the one people think of immediately and feel the best about.”
“I’m going to write your campaign in a conversational style which means the customer will categorize you in their mind as a friend.”
C: When Asked, “How much?” the First Digit of a Number Should Always be the First Syllable Out of Your Mouth.
I was one of only a few advertising people in the room on that fateful day I met with Gene Chamberlain. He said, “When a customer says the word ‘How’ followed by the word ‘much,’ there is only one intelligent way to answer that question: Take a breath and name a number and then – without pausing – name everything that is included in that price at no extra charge.”
Most of the crowd sold mobile homes, so Gene used their industry in his example.
“A man wants to buy a mobile home, so he drives up and down mobile home row, then back to his office. He saw two mobile homes he liked, never realizing it was the same model on two different lots.”
“So he calls the first mobile home dealer and asks, ‘How much is the mobile home next to the road?’ The first dealer said, “Sir, you have an eye for quality! That’s a Northwind mobile home. Those are made in Minnesota where it gets really cold, so they’re extremely energy efficient. That mobile home is made with 2 by 6 lumber instead of 2 by 4s, and it comes fully furnished and fully carpeted and with all your major appliances…” Gene stopped in mid-sentence and said, “The customer was no longer listening, he just wanted off the phone. He was thinking, ‘That mobile home is overpriced and the salesman knows it.’”
Gene looked at us for several seconds before he continued,
“So the man calls the second dealership and asks, ‘How much is the mobile home next to the road?’ ‘Thirty-four thousand two hundred and seventy dollars,’ the second salesman answered, ‘which includes at no extra charge, vaulted ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace in an open-concept floor plan, every room furnished with your choice of Bassett or Broyhill furniture, granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, Kohler fixtures, mini-blinds and draperies on every window and we also deliver it, set it up, and tie it down at no extra charge, then we build a 20 by 30-foot redwood deck outside your back door along with a two-car carport for you to park under. And that’s just the beginning. Would you like to hear everything else you get for just thirty-four, two-seventy, or would you like to come down and walk through it first?”
The more things you list that are “included at no extra charge,” the cheaper the price becomes. But only if you name the price first.
Gene Chamberlain is gone now, but I honor his memory by passing along the best advice on selling I was ever given. My only regret is that I didn’t tell him ‘Thank you’ before I left the room.
Roy H. Williams
July 8, 2019