So I spent today with a crowd of fundraisers.
They collect money for various charities: hospices, an organization that cares for carers, a home for people with mental illness.
We talked about marketing and sales.
In this case, of course, they’re selling the opportunity to make a donation.
After all, asking people for money requires the same approach no matter what you’re collecting for.
But these folk haven’t been schooled in the hard-knock sales academies I’ve been through.
And they were almost too nice. Almost too polite.
Which broke my heart.
I have a friend.
I actually have a couple, but this is about one friend in particular.
She’s passionate about good service.
It’s her reason for being.
So much so, that she started a business training customer service reps.
But she was hitting a brick wall with getting clients on board.
Every time she had a bad experience in a restaurant, hotel, coffee shop or store, she’d recognize an opportunity for improvement.
Armed with truth and justice on her side, she’d march over to the owner of the place and offer her services.
“My experience was terrible,” she’d say. “The service was really shoddy, your staff were unfriendly and I had a thoroughly rotten time. But don’t worry! I can fix it for you!”
Without fail, she’d come up with resistance. Instead of getting them eager to improve, they’d close up and get introspective, or worse.
A lot of them were even offended and told her to get lost.
I just had lunch with the best salesman I know.
He works part-time in a highly competitive, cut-throat industry. One I used to work in.
In his job, if you don’t sell then you don’t get paid. If you don’t get paid, you get fired (if you haven’t already quit.)
He’s been doing it for a decade, or maybe longer.
And although he only works part-time, he out-bills his full-time colleagues every single month.
I’ve been trying to bottle his secret sauce for as long as I’ve known him.
But I’ve never succeeded.
Today I got a glimpse of the ingredients when he told me the story of the scorpion and the frog.
It’s a story that’s been around since people started telling stories. You’ve probably heard it. If not, here’s the short version:
I spent today with an online “entertainment” company, preaching the importance of customer love.
(Online entertainment is a euphemism, of course. But it’s not what you think, I promise.)
This organisation follows the triedand tested model of getting their leads to become prospects in return for a freebie. They then convert some of those prospects into paying customers.
It’s a lucrative business. A couple of percentage points of improvement on those front-end touch points – lead-to-prospect conversion or prospect-to-client conversion – has an exponential impact on revenue.
I was working with the customer service team, putting a “welcoming committee” in place that personally greets new users on the phone.
The aim of these calls is to get a deposit.
The process is about making them feel happy to do just that.
Here’s what we came up with:
I used to go out with a girl from West Cork in the bucolic south of Ireland.
They speak thick and fast down there. The first time I went to visit her family she had to translate for me.
Which was embarrassing.
But not as embarrassing as the first time I met her mother.