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Hot Prospects

The Proven Prospecting System to Ramp Up Your Sale

About The Book

Whatever good or service you're selling, five likely customers are worth a hundred random names. No one can help you find new business by finding those five -- or five hundred, or fifty thousand -- best-qualified customers better than Bill Good.

For over a decade, Bill Good's guide to increasing new business by finding the right prospective customers has been an invaluable resource to people in every imaginable profession involving selling. Now completely revised and updated to include lessons on how email, fax machines, and the Internet can be incorporated into an effective prospecting and selling campaign, it is the most valuable tool a salesperson can own.

Anyone who does any prospecting or selling by phone -- from securities, insurance, and real estate to fund-raising -- knows the frustrations and rejections inherent in "cold calling." Many people come to fear it. But why should this be so? Certainly there are people out there who need and want the product you're selling. If only you could more efficiently generate a list of just those people, weed out the hopeless cases, and launch a simple and highly effective campaign to win them to your side. Prospecting Your Way to Sales Success shows you how to do just that. Bill Good draws on all he's learned from a long, successful career teaching companies and individual entrepreneurs how to create successful prospecting campaigns. He jettisons the stale, old-school, don't-believe-a-customer-who-says-no philosophy for a plan of attack that finds good prospects while quickly screening out unqualified, uninterested customers. From the first contact to the final close, Bill Good will help you design a complete, customized prospecting campaign.

In this new revised edition, bursting with fresh ideas for incorporating new media and new technologies into his proven campaign strategies, Bill Good has updated a classic and given salespeople everywhere a book they can't afford to live without.


Chapter 1


The Old School vs. the New School

"Don't throw good money after bad."

Bill Good, age nine

My family frequently went to dinner at the S&W Cafeteria in Greensboro, North Carolina. They had some kind of wishing well in the lobby. My brother Ed was throwing handfuls of coins in it. I said, "Ed, quit it! Don't throw good money after bad." As near as I can figure, some fellow who worked for an ad agency overheard my comment. He ran some kind of local ad with a picture of a kid throwing money in a wishing well and used my statement as a slogan. Whatever he was selling never caught on. But within a matter of months, my statement became known worldwide.

Many of the famous statements you have grown up with were actually said first by me. From ages nine to eleven, I was, frankly, precocious. Many of my comments on life were picked up by others and even made into advertising or political slogans. I never received credit or money. By age eleven, I realized that others were profiting from my comments, and so I shut up for a long time. With the publication of this book, however, I decided to accept the recognition due the authorship of these statements. You will find many of them in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Look in the author section under "Anon."

You came into sales to sell, but it's not working out that way. Perhaps you wanted to be a financial adviser and help people make their fortune (as well as your own, of course). You didn't think most of your time would be spent making phone calls in an endless search for people with money. And worse, you had no idea that people wouldn't welcome your call. After all, you have ideas that should help people get a better return on their money than they now enjoy.

Or perhaps you're in real estate. You wanted to help people find new homes, not spend hours sitting at an open house that no one attends, or walking door-to-door to meet the neighbors. And just last week, a dog scared you half to death as it lunged at you from under a shrub.

Or you sell life insurance. You know that if you can help one or two families each week protect their assets and provide for their families, you can make a very good living in the process.

You found out in a hurry, of course, that most people really don't want to talk to a life insurance agent. But not even in your most pessimistic brooding about your future did you realize it could be as bad as it really is.

The problem is really driven home to you at your wife's company Christmas party. She had warned you not to talk business, but in the back of your mind, you had an idea that people would at least want to know about some of the new life insurance products on the market.

Drink in hand, you bided your time, then, as expected, someone asked what you do for a living.

"I'm a life insurance agent," you said.

You might as well have said, "I'm a mentally disordered sex offender currently under psychiatric care." The room couldn't have emptied out any faster.

Now, you certainly didn't come into sales to frighten or offend people.

The Problem with Sales Is Prospecting!

Where did all the prospects go? Are there just too many salespeople, or did something happen to scare them off?

Worse, the longer you've been in sales, the more you hate prospecting. Why? They turn you down, reject you. And because they reject you and because prospects are so hard to come by, you try harder and harder. And the harder you try, the more scared they get.

It's interesting that the major problem in sales is not really a problem with sales. It's a prospecting problem. And that problem is scarcity. Most salespeople act as if there are too few good prospects.

The reason you are reading this book is that you don't have enough prospects. If you had all you could handle, you certainly wouldn't be looking at a book on prospecting. Yes, I am very well aware that 99 percent of the salespeople in this country believe that rejection is THE PROBLEM. But that's not it. If you really believed that there were enough prospects for you, would you care if some jerk hung up on you? But since you and most other salespeople believe -- consciously or subconsciously -- that prospects are scarce, then rejection threatens survival. And that hurts.

So rejection is not the problem in sales. Nor is it closing, a lack of product or service knowledge, too high a price, the "competition," or poor company advertising. The problem is scarcity of prospects. But we live in a country of 266 million people. How can prospects be scarce?

Julius Caesar said, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

I say, "The reason for a scarcity of prospects lies not in the market but in our method." And that method is one I call the Old School.

The Old School Style of Selling

Every sales trainer I ever had, plus all that I've read, has focused on overcoming objections and on closing. J. Douglas Edwards, perhaps the best of what I call the Old School trainers, preached that "half of your sales will be made after the prospect has said no six times." Mona Ling, a prominent trainer in the insurance industry, promotes "tested answers" to life insurance objections. A flyer promoting a set of cassette tapes came across my desk recently featuring a photo of the trainer and the back end of his car. His vanity license plate said, "CLOSER."

This concentration on closing and overcoming objections has defined a lifestyle for countless millions of salespeople. In order to understand fully the fact that this is not another book in that tradition, I do think we should spend a few minutes highlighting the Old School. Then you will understand what my system isn't.

Old School Teachings

If you have been around sales more than one day, I am certain you have heard one or more versions of the three principles summarized below. I personally have no idea where I first heard them and doubt if anyone should be given credit, or blame, as the case may be. At any rate, here are the philosophical foundations of the Old School.

* All buyers are liars.

* Don't believe the prospect until he or she has said no three, six, twelve, or twenty-seven times.

* Every no gets you that much closer to a yes.

As you can well imagine, if you believe these principles, they will affect the way you live your life. If you sell insurance, when the prospect says no, you will press ahead anyway thinking you are that much closer to a yes. If you are a financial adviser or planner and the prospect tells you he or she doesn't have any money now, you won't believe him or her but will charge forward anyway, mining the prospect's evening and your own when the prospect tells you which anatomical portion should receive your solicitation.

Most Old School salespeople, consciously or otherwise, believe and act as if there is a war between buyer and seller, and that your job as seller is to win! "We Shall Overcome" was not just the theme song of the civil rights movement. It's a song the "sales movement" has been singing for generations. It's one reason your call usually isn't welcome. Too many generations of prospects have been overcome.

Applying Old School Principles

If you work in insurance, real estate, most financial services (except, of course, where my company does the training!), appliances, automobiles, or just about anything else, you have most likely been trained in the Old School -- if you have had any training at all. If you have had no formal training, you've still gotten the Old School message. Like a powerful undertow, whenever you put a toe in the sales water, it's tugging on you.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that you are a salesperson in a financial services company. Perhaps you sell stocks and bonds. As I am sure you will recognize, the yarn I'm going to spin for you is all too typical. If you don't recognize yourself as the key player, I'm sure you know someone to whom this applies directly.

So let's assume you are fairly new in the business, and your branch manager or sales manager has made it perfectly clear that you are expected to cold call -- that is, phone someone to whom you've never spoken before -- at least five hours a day and probably a couple of evenings each week. On your part, you would much rather wait for someone to call you or at least be provided with twenty or thirty direct-mail leads each week.

But -- as you learn to your dismay -- it doesn't work that way. So you decide to take the plunge one evening when no one is in the office. You sit down at your phone and start calling. Before long, you get Dr. Jones on the phone.

Now, you happen to have heard that Dr. Jones has a $300,000 annual income, lives in a $600,000 home, and that he and his spouse, Dr. Smith-Jones, drive his-and-hers Mercedes. This couple would, of course, be highly desirable customers.

Here's how the usual conversation goes:

YOU: (Ring, ring.)

DR. JONES: Hello.

YOU: May I speak with Dr. Jones, please?

DR. JONES: Speaking.

YOU: Dr. Jones, this is Fred Smithers with Beam of Light Financial Services.

DR. JONES (interrupting): Excuse me, but I am really not interested.

Before continuing with this now classic conversation, let's review your Old School training.

First of all, you will undoubtedly have been trained to persist. In sales school, you probably heard countless anecdotes about how various superstar salespeople have persisted and triumphantly returned with the prized order. Plus, your sales manager or your peers will have surely relayed some or all of these Old School gems of wisdom:

* "No is just a stepping stone on the way to yes."

* "The more nos you get, the closer you are to a yes."

* "No is simply a misunderstanding on the part of the prospect and is just a way of saying that he or she requires additional information."

With these philosophical pearls jangling loose in your purse or pocket, let's pick up on your conversation with Dr. Jones, who was saying:

DR. JONES: I am really not interested.

YOU: Of course you're not interested. If you had been interested, you would have called me, right?

DR. JONES (angrily): I guess I would, but I didn't. So what does that tell you?

YOU: I understand you are not interested, Doctor. But let me just ask you this: What are you interested in?

DR. JONES: I'm not interested in you. I'm not interested in Beam of Light Financial Services. But I'm very interested in my dinner, and besides, I'm busy.

YOU: I understand you're busy. I find that most of my are busy and it's for that reason that...

DR. JONES: (Click. Dial tone.)

YOU: Sigh. (Addressing room at large) I wonder what I did wrong?

From the Old School point of view, you certainly must have done something wrong. Weakness? Wimpy tone in voice? Failure to persist? Insufficient goal orientation? Bad phone breath? Sadly, you recall the words of Old School trainer J. Douglas Edwards, who said that half of your sales would be made after the prospect has said no six times. So sitting there with a long face and with a fly buzzing obnoxiously about the pizza crust on the table, you reflect on the magic number six.

"If only I could have gotten Dr. Jones to say no six times," you say to the fly, "I might have gotten his account. But," you say to the coffee cup with bits of creamer curdling on the surface, "Rome wasn't built in a day."

And so you grind through another eight or twelve calls, and not one sale or appointment do you get. At the end of an hour, you feel as if you have been passed back and forth through a paper shredder. You're tired and discouraged.

Walking toward the door, you make a face at Dr. Jones's prospect card, which you have taped to your phone to remind yourself to call him tomorrow and grind a few more nos out of him.

As you lock up, a terrible thought strikes. There was that videotape you saw in training. What was it the trainer said? Was it, "Don't believe the prospect until he has said no twenty-seven times?" It couldn't have been!

Poor you. You couldn't even get Dr. Jones to say it six times.

What a Way to Make a Living!

Now I submit to you that the Old School is one hell of a way to make a living. If you happen to be brand new to sales and think I exaggerate that people are trained this way, just pick up any other sales book or attend any sales meeting anywhere. (Definite exception: sales organizations that have had my training.)

If you would like to conduct your own tests of Old School methods, by all means verify the following:

1. It's very hard on the salesperson. If you don't already hate prospecting, you probably will -- if you stick to Old School methods.

2. It is very hard on prospects. Why do you think the room empties out when a life insurance agent introduces himself? It's not the product. People buy it every day. It's the sales method. After decades of nail-pulling sales methods, people have finally come to believe that a session with a life insurance agent will be unpleasant. And so it is.

But, lest you think that this school of sales is entirely without redeeming social value, it did serve its purpose. Undoubtedly it came of age in an era in which the old-time peddler could not make more than one call a day. And in the old days, if you didn't sell on that one call, you didn't eat.

Today we live in an entirely different era in sales. Instead of being limited to one call a day, you can cover more territory by phone in an hour than the old-time salesperson could in a week, or even a month. In seconds, you can blast out an e-mail broadcast to prequalified clients and prospects. While you are wrapping up a sale or setting up an appointment, your personal computer can be cracking out twelve letters a minute. And who knows how many people can check your latest price quote on your company's web page?

It's a different world. Yet the old methods, unfortunately, still persist.

This book, however, is most definitely not about this Old School style of selling.

It's about what I'll call the New School.

The New School

The system of prospecting I'm going to outline relies upon two very basic assumptions:

1. There are enough prospects in your market area who are interested and qualified today to make it worthwhile to look for them and to ignore the rest.

By "interested," I mean INTERESTED. Ask a child, "Are you interested in ice cream?" The child's yes is the one I'm talking about. Ask the child, "Are you interested in going into the backyard and weeding the garden?" That no is the one Old School salespeople grind away on in their misguided efforts to convince the child there is some remote benefit in weeding the garden.

By "qualified," I mean "has capability to buy NOW." In different industries, being qualified will, of course, mean different things.

As I pointed out in the Introduction, you need several hundred prospect names. I guarantee you that unless you have an extremely limited market, you can develop a simple way to look for those who are interested and qualified NOW. No problem.

As you will see, we can approach this market in a variety of ways. We can use the telephone, direct mail, fax, e-mail, or almost any combination of the above. But whatever the method, I'll show you how to find prospects who are INTERESTED and QUALIFIED.

2. Not all "buyers are liars." In fact, we'll assume the opposite, that buyers tend to be truth tellers.

The idea that "buyers are liars" is the fundamental assumption on which the Old School is based. The Old School believes that if someone tells you they're not interested, what they really mean is "I need additional information." Or, when buyers tell you, "I don't have any money," what they really mean is "I don't have any money for that idea, but if you come up with another idea, of course I could raise the money."

I call this "translating English into English." And it assumes the prospect doesn't know his or her own mind or is spinning a lie.

Frankly, if you treat people as if they are lying or don't know their own mind, you shouldn't be surprised if they don't respond well to your sales message. Undoubtedly, there are many people out there who will lie to you, who will create a smoke screen to tell you they're not interested when they are, and who will rely on other subterfuge to mislead you. Yes, their lies and smoke screens can be penetrated by Old School selling. But my question to you is: Do you want a customer list full of liars?

You can build a selling system on one of two assumptions. First, you can assume, along with the prophets of the Old School, that many buyers are indeed liars. If you make that assumption, you must follow it with all of the various techniques to overcome opposition. You must be prepared to suffer endless rejection, and you must continue the endless process of translating English into English. Or, second, you can shed the Old School and join the New School and make life almost infinitely easier.

The implications for your daily activity of what I just told you are quite profound.

Remember Dr Jones, who got the call from Beam of Light Financial Services? Here's how a practitioner of the New School would have handled it.

YOU: May I speak with Dr. Jones, please?

DR. JONES: Speaking.

YOU: Dr. Jones, this is Fred Smithers with Beam of Light Financial Services.

DR. JONES (interrupting): Excuse me, but I am really not interested.

YOU: Thankyouverymuch for your time. Have a great day. (Click. Dial tone.)

uttered as a single word, becomes the modern equivalent of Hiyo Silver and you disappear into the electronic haze of the telephone system in search of a prospect.

So, let's leave the Old School and its tired, old methods and go in search of the New School, a better way to prospect.

You have been spending a lot of time and money on the Old School. Now it's time to follow my advice: "Don't throw good money after bad," OK?

Copyright © 1986, 1997 by Bill Good

About The Author

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (March 9, 2011)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451648263

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