I was listening to the radio the other day, and there was a segment about the ways in which people and companies use persuasive tactics to communicate with and sell to their customers and prospects. Today, I want to focus on one of the three ideas. If I can remember, I might visit the other two in a future blog.
This one is called “Foot in the Door,” and the idea is that you open the dialog with a neutral topic that is designed to put the person at ease, maybe even catch him/her off guard a little bit. The example used in the radio program was a panhandler who approaches a target asking for the time. The person being asked is more likely to stop and engage because he is just being asked a question.
After getting the answer, then the panhandler asks for money. Having already stopped to answer the question, the person is apparently more likely to give up some money. The radio person did not quote any statistics about effective rates, but it worked more often than just coldly asking for money.
So how can we apply this to our selling approach? For the purposes of this discussion, I want to focus on cold calling.
I often hear from clients that it is getting harder and harder to get a prospect on the phone today. People hide behind voice mail and use caller ID to screen who they speak with and when. So, when we are lucky enough to get a suspect on the phone, we really have to pull out all the stops in order to make the most of the opportunity.
Here are a couple of ways to use the “Foot in the Door” tactic.• Ask a question.
You could say something like, “I have a question about the role that print currently plays in your marketing strategy.” The idea here is to get the person talking about what they are doing, not how or with whom. Once you get him/her to talk for a while, you can launch into who you are, what you do, and how you might be able to help.• Cite a statistic.
You could throw out a stat such as, “42 percent of marketers have said that they will be using targeted direct mail to communicate with customers in the next 12 months. What are your thoughts on that?”
Once the prospect answers, you can use anecdotal selling to convey how you can help him/her reach their goals, and cite an example of a project you worked on recently that is relevant to the statistic that you cited.
What do you think? Do you ever use this tactic to disarm a prospect and make him/her more likely to talk to you openly? Please share your thoughts in a Comment below.And…Don’t miss our new Tuesday e-workshop on time management.It’s everything you’ve ever needed to know about getting more out of your day but were afraid to ask!