When The Phone Rings II

If hard-sell tactics are part and parcel of your initial prospect contact and wonder why you aren’t getting to second base . . . You desperately need to understand, hard-sell tactics turn most people off! 

When a potential client calls, or you return a potential client’s call, hard-sell just doesn’t work, except maybe when you’re selling replacement windows to the 960 ranch market; don’t begin with a canned micro-presentation about your company, you, and what you have to offer. Instead begin the conversation on a specific problem that your service can solves. A problem which you already know exists because you asked the prospect what problem they need solved on your web page pre-qualification questionnaire. 

By addressing a problem you already know they have an intense desire to solve, you don’t come across sounding like a Tinman. You are not giving the prospect cause or reason to hang up . . . unless you are selling unsolicited replacement windows. You are giving them concrete information that directly relates to a problem they have freely and willingly expressed. This also leaves you in a much better position to set reasonable expectations.

What . . . you don’t have a pre-qualification page on your web site . . . no web site at all? Now’s the time to remedy that marketing malfunction Buck-O!

A Marketing Minute – Is The Customer Always Right?

It was about time to leave for a NARI meeting, and I was selecting a pair of pants from my closet, when much to my surprise, I pulled three pair in a row that must have belonged to “Too Tall Jones.” My thigh was bigger than the waist and the legs were clearly a foot longer than mine. Not that I would’ve minded fitting into any of the three, it would have meant my waist was about 32” and I was well over 6’6”, but it just wasn’t going to happen in this lifetime.

Hey, we all make mistakes, and I’d expect this kind of mistake from a cleaning establishment . . . probably happens all the time. Tomorrow I’ll just take these back and ask them to rectify the situation. That made sense . . . or so I thought.

The next morning I walked into the cleaner, the same cleaners I’ve been using since I moved to the neighborhood, said my hellos, after all it wasn’t like they didn’t know who I was after spending $50 a week there for more than two years, then I held up a pair for the pants that went from my arm pits to just brushing the floor, and the place broke into laughter. Everybody agreed they weren’t mine.

Well, if they weren’t mine, they had to belong to somebody now didn’t they? And it would follow that since this was the only dry cleaners I used, I must’ve gotten the ill fitting pairs from here. I mean after all, they were still in the plastic with, this is important, with the call tag stapled to the top with the cleaners’ name, address, and telephone number printed neatly across the top. Not a problem you’re thinking . . . right?

Nope . . . in spite of the evidence, the clerk refused to take them back and refused to discuss what reparations they were willing to make. The pants had a red tag stapled to a belt loop, and she pointed out most vociferously, that they never used red tags, only blue or green. I asked if this were their call tag and she agreed it was, but “we never use red tags,” she said. Back and forth went the conversation for 20 minutes or so, me pointing out their company call tag, she pointing out, “We never use red tags.”

So who won? The cleaners won the first round and I have the pants neatly hanging in my closet, unused forever. But they lost a true and loyal customer . . . me. I’d spent a substantial chunk of change in the establishment over the previous two years that I now was most assuredly going to spend somewhere else, but I’m sure the clerk sleeps much better now that she held firm in her conviction that they “never use red tags.”

The moral of the story is clear and the message is evident: The customers may not always be right, but they are ALWAYS the customers regardless the tag color.

Oh . . . does anyone want to swap three pairs of khakis with 42” waist and 30” inseam for three pairs with 32” waist and 36” inseams?

A Marketing Minute – Just Shut Up!

Do you remember the commercial where the tagline was, “ . . . but never let them see you sweat?” Here’s a new wrinkle . . .

After spending three days basking in the glory of a client receiving a national award at the annual Remodeler’s Leadership Conference, hosted by Hanley-Woods Publishing, I received the following email from someone whose marketing business we’ve been courting for several months:


Last week at the Leadership Conference, you handed me a pencil apologizing that it wasn’t what you had ordered. Is that the image that you want to portray? “We screwed up but we are using it anyway?” There was nothing wrong with the pencil that you used. Give it out and shut up or don’t give it out. If you are a 1st class shop, don’t apologize!
That’s been bothering me since it happened and I thought you would want that feedback. If I’m out of line, remember the advice is worth every penny you paid for it!


Mark is not only one of Maryland’s award-winning premier remodelers of fine, custom homes, but he also happens to be absolutely right on target!

Do I know better? Of course I do, but that single, momentary lapse in judgment, made me appear to a prospective client, as Bob Dole and my children would say, “Like a dufuss.”

What should I have done? In retrospect, just what he suggests, “Give it out and shut up . . . If you’re a first class shop, don’t apologize.”

Not one single person at the conference, besides yours truly, had the slightest inkling there was anything wrong with the imprinted carpenter’s pencil. No one knew it should have been gold over black instead of black over gold. All I managed to do was bring it to their attention. Further, I denigrated the relationship by promoting the assumption that I thought less of them by giving them a sub-standard pencil.

I can hear their collective brains whirring with, “Well, he must be going to give the better pencils to clients and prospects he REALLY likes.”

Did my ego take a trouncing? You bet! Think I’ll make that mistake again? Don’t hold your breath! Will I succeed in getting Mark’s signature at the bottom of a marketing contract? Only he knows, and he’s not talking, but perhaps one day, he’ll forget my momentary faux pas, and spread a little ink across the signature block of a Biz-comm contract.

Is there a moral in all this? Humbly I submit never apologize . . . it’s easy to get caught up in a moment, but take a second breath and think before you open your big mouth.