Selling weird stuff over the phone

by Zodiax
20 replies
I am currently reading the book, "you can sell anything" and I came across a snippet in there that detailed a young man closing 50% of the sales he was making selling history books(lol).

Now that I come to think of it- I think it's the best time ever to sell obscure items that people would normally buy in person over the phone.

When was the last time you got a call from a telemarketer offering Belgium wine- or offering you a discount on the fifth edition of the encyclopedia.

Heck- I'd be interested in hearing if anyone picked up the phone and sold imaginary crap just for the hell of it. It would be more funny if you got the prospect ready to purchase it!
#phone #selling #stuff #weird
  • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
    Originally Posted by Zodiax View Post

    I am currently reading the book, "you can sell anything" and I came across a snippet in there that detailed a young man closing 50% of the sales he was making selling history books(lol)
    Is it true, that you live in Claude's pocket?

    Wouldn't the young man you referenced, have closed 100% of the sales he was making?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Ron
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    • Profile picture of the author eccj
      Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

      Is it true, that you live in Claude's pocket?

      Wouldn't the young man you referenced, have closed 100% of the sales he was making?

      Inquiring minds want to know.

      Ron
      I believe that's what makes it weird.
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by Zodiax View Post

    I am currently reading the book, "you can sell anything" and I came across a snippet in there that detailed a young man closing 50% of the sales he was making selling history books(lol).

    I used to sell vacuum cleaners for $1,500-$2,000 in people homes. I did it for as few decades. You may find this interesting.

    I had been selling for a decade or so, I was selling about 50% of the people I was showing my product to. A respectable result, even for an experienced cold canvasser.

    But 50% of the time, I would hear the same objections, over and over again. "I can't afford it! Now is not a good time. I'll have to get back to you. I'll have to think about it"

    As an experiment, I found a small set of medical encyclopedias that I could buy from the printer for about $7. The markup on encyclopedias is the highest of any direct sales. I sold them for $24.95. This is maybe the late 1980s.

    I simply didn't want to hear these objections again. And a $24.95 item is the very definition of "Impulse buy".

    The results? I spent a week selling them. And I sold.......yup.......50% of the people I showed them to. And the other 50%? I was still hearing "We have to think about it" and the other objections.

    So, what did I learn? That the price is almost immaterial. If they want it, they will buy it. If they don't want it, they won't. And the objections you get are nearly all just reflexive, not based on reality.

    The guy that says "Right now is a bad time. Come back in 6 months" will say that if the product is $2,000 or just $25. That realization came as quite a surprise.
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    • Profile picture of the author RR151
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      I used to sell vacuum cleaners for $1,500-$2,000 in people homes. I did it for as few decades. You may find this interesting.

      I had been selling for a decade or so, I was selling about 50% of the people I was showing my product to. A respectable result, even for an experienced cold canvasser.

      But 50% of the time, I would hear the same objections, over and over again. "I can't afford it! Now is not a good time. I'll have to get back to you. I'll have to think about it"

      As an experiment, I found a small set of medical encyclopedias that I could buy from the printer for about $7. The markup on encyclopedias is the highest of any direct sales. I sold them for $24.95. This is maybe the late 1980s.

      I simply didn't want to hear these objections again. And a $24.95 item is the very definition of "Impulse buy".

      The results? I spent a week selling them. And I sold.......yup.......50% of the people I showed them to. And the other 50%? I was still hearing "We have to think about it" and the other objections.

      So, what did I learn? That the price is almost immaterial. If they want it, they will buy it. If they don't want it, they won't. And the objections you get are nearly all just reflexive, not based on reality.

      The guy that says "Right now is a bad time. Come back in 6 months" will say that if the product is $2,000 or just $25. That realization came as quite a surprise.
      So Steve Rosenbaum had said it right then...People buy when they are ready to buy NOT when you are ready to sell. This makes your back end sales tools like the email marketing with an autoresponder a very important tool...RR
      Signature

      Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. Benjamin Franklin
      People buy when THEY are ready to buy, NOT when you are ready to sell. Steve Rosenbaum

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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by RR151 View Post

        So Steve Rosenbaum had said it right then...People buy when they are ready to buy NOT when you are ready to sell. This makes your back end sales tools like the email marketing with an autoresponder a very important tool...RR
        Only partly true. Remember, half of the people I talked to...bought from me on the first call. I didn't make follow up calls. People buy when they are ready to buy...but you can stimulate reasons why they are ready to buy now, as opposed to later.

        The "people buy when they want to" idea is far more applicable when talking about selling by e-mail sequence or direct mail.

        An in person sales presentation is a unique event.

        And the people that didn't buy? For a few years, I would repeatedly call them back.

        If they didn't buy the day I saw them, they almost never bought later. This fed the idea that they were either buyers or not...more than it was a timing thing.

        In fact, I almost always sold someone who had bought from an in home salesperson before. This confirmed the idea that they were either the type to buy, or the type to not buy. It would have been impossible that the timing was just right on all of these sales.
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        • Profile picture of the author Zodiax
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

          Only partly true. Remember, half of the people I talked to...bought from me on the first call. I didn't make follow up calls. People buy when they are ready to buy...but you can stimulate reasons why they are ready to buy now, as opposed to later.

          The "people buy when they want to" idea is far more applicable when talking about selling by e-mail sequence or direct mail.

          An in person sales presentation is a unique event.

          And the people that didn't buy? For a few years, I would repeatedly call them back.

          If they didn't buy the day I saw them, they almost never bought later. This fed the idea that they were either buyers or not...more than it was a timing thing.

          In fact, I almost always sold someone who had bought from an in home salesperson before. This confirmed the idea that they were either the type to buy, or the type to not buy. It would have been impossible that the timing was just right on all of these sales.
          Stephen Schiffman says that 1/3rd of the people you sell to will buy no matter what you say.

          I imagine the bulk of the 50% of buyers were those. You could have been half drunk and they would have brought.
          Signature

          'I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion'
          -Muhammad Ali

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          • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
            Originally Posted by Zodiax View Post

            Stephen Schiffman says that 1/3rd of the people you sell to will buy no matter what you say.

            I imagine the bulk of the 50% of buyers were those. You could have been half drunk and they would have brought.
            No. Although I read Shiffman's books, and they offer real value....the "A third of people buy no matter what" is just like the "Most sales are made after the fifth closing attempt" and "People need to see your ad 7 times before they buy" tropes. They simply aren't true.

            And you are doing what everyone else does. You are accepting it as gospel. Every business is different. Every method of selling is different.

            In my business of selling vacuum cleaners, about 15% of the people who are qualified,buy.... no matter who shows the vacuum to them. No matter what brand it is, no matter what price point. The "people who will buy anything from anybody" group is about 15% of the adult population, that will make an appointment. It's about 6% of the total adult population.

            I know that, because that's what new reps sell, about 15%. (not including parents and close relatives)

            If they are selling to owner referrals (that they generated) that goes up to about 30%.
            The reason these figures are so low, is because the people we were seeing, didn't have any interest whatsoever in a vacuum cleaner. They all already had one, many times, a new one. None of these were leads where someone was interested in what we sold.

            And here is a reality in selling. Every percentage point you close above average, becomes exponentially harder, the further up you go.

            So, selling 30% (for me) was normal, without any complex maneuvering. But selling 35% wasn't just 5% harder. It was twice as hard. And selling 40% was twice as hard as selling 35%.

            Selling 50% of your cold presentations was the upper limit. In fact, there were distributors that simply didn't think I was telling the truth. They would build large organizations on closing 15% as an group.

            My office closed an average of 41%, month after month. An almost unheard of feat. But it was because I trained my people well, and let all the stragglers go. I only wanted salespeople, not people I needed to babysit.

            That 41% included my 50%. 40-50% of the sales were made by me, even when we had 5 or 6 reps working out of my office. They may have averaged 25% closing, as a group....not bad at all in our business.

            I'm convinced that there is a high upper limit. I closed (the last couple of decades) about 80% of the referrals I saw. These were people that knew someone who already bought from me, or were highly qualified in some way. 80% was my limit, no matter what I did. 20% couldn't be sold.

            My sales records made me the keynote speaker at my company convention, and the keynote speaker (and paid speaker for 9 years running) at my industry annual conventions.

            And all of this was just from studying selling, and steady improvement, over the long haul.

            Good luck.
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            • Profile picture of the author Zodiax
              Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

              No. Although I read Shiffman's books, and they offer real value....the "A third of people buy no matter what" is just like the "Most sales are made after the fifth closing attempt" and "People need to see your ad 7 times before they buy" tropes. They simply aren't true.

              And you are doing what everyone else does. You are accepting it as gospel. Every business is different. Every method of selling is different.

              In my business of selling vacuum cleaners, about 15% of the people who are qualified,buy.... no matter who shows the vacuum to them. No matter what brand it is, no matter what price point. The "people who will buy anything from anybody" group is about 15% of the adult population, that will make an appointment. It's about 6% of the total adult population.

              I know that, because that's what new reps sell, about 15%. (not including parents and close relatives)

              If they are selling to owner referrals (that they generated) that goes up to about 30%.
              The reason these figures are so low, is because the people we were seeing, didn't have any interest whatsoever in a vacuum cleaner. They all already had one, many times, a new one. None of these were leads where someone was interested in what we sold.

              And here is a reality in selling. Every percentage point you close above average, becomes exponentially harder, the further up you go.

              So, selling 30% (for me) was normal, without any complex maneuvering. But selling 35% wasn't just 5% harder. It was twice as hard. And selling 40% was twice as hard as selling 35%.

              Selling 50% of your cold presentations was the upper limit. In fact, there were distributors that simply didn't think I was telling the truth. They would build large organizations on closing 15% as an group.

              My office closed an average of 41%, month after month. An almost unheard of feat. But it was because I trained my people well, and let all the stragglers go. I only wanted salespeople, not people I needed to babysit.

              That 41% included my 50%. 40-50% of the sales were made by me, even when we had 5 or 6 reps working out of my office. They may have averaged 25% closing, as a group....not bad at all in our business.

              I'm convinced that there is a high upper limit. I closed (the last couple of decades) about 80% of the referrals I saw. These were people that knew someone who already bought from me, or were highly qualified in some way. 80% was my limit, no matter what I did. 20% couldn't be sold.

              My sales records made me the keynote speaker at my company convention, and the keynote speaker (and paid speaker for 9 years running) at my industry annual conventions.

              And all of this was just from studying selling, and steady improvement, over the long haul.

              Good luck.
              Your sales number bring out an interesting point that I am learning in sales.

              You want to see which part of the sales process you want to improve to increase your income

              Since I am still inexperienced I am going to reference this:


              It's not just focusing on being a 'smooth talker'. It's about being pragmatic and improving each individual key result areas by small percentages.
              Signature

              'I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion'
              -Muhammad Ali

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              • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                Originally Posted by Zodiax View Post

                It's not just focusing on being a 'smooth talker'. It's about being pragmatic and improving each individual key result areas by small percentages.
                Another smart point.

                I've thought about this often..."If I could just improve every aspect of selling by 10%, I would triple my sales"...that sort of thing.


                And it is true that by improving any one point of the sales process, you improve it all....but not every point is equal.

                For example, After 30 years or so of selling, and studying selling, I could close far better than the first decade. But if I did everything else the same as I did in the beginning, my income may have gone up 10%.....even though I was closing 5 times better.

                Where the changes in the sales process create huge changes in income, are early on.

                For example, selecting who you prospect (and who you ignore) is the single biggest factor in sales success.

                As an example, at my peak, I closed 80% of my appointments (in three different industries). But, if I made appointments with anyone that would listen, that 80% would be more like 15%. Why? Because I would be speaking to the large majority of people that would never buy from me, no matter what. 90% of my time may be wasted talking to non-prospects.

                And no matter how I improved the rest of the process, the majority of my time would be wasted.

                In general, the earlier in the sales process that improvements are made, the bigger the change in your sales and income.

                I talk a lot about these priorities in my book on Sales Prospecting.

                even when you are actually talking to a qualified prospect, the first 10% of the presentation is more important than the other 90%, as far as them buying. In the first few minutes, the prospect is deciding who you are, and whether they like you, trust you, and whether they are actually listening to you.

                It's here that the tone of the conversation is set, the direction of the presentation, the ground rules, the positioning....all are done at the very beginning.


                It's why I so seldom heard sales objections (later in my career). All of the work I had done before we got to the actual presentation...and then before the close...made objections sound silly.
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            • Profile picture of the author socialentry
              Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

              And all of this was just from studying selling, and steady improvement, over the long haul.
              If you had to go back in time, what would have speeded up the process?
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              • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                Originally Posted by socialentry View Post

                If you had to go back in time, what would have speeded up the process?
                Smart question.

                Well, obviously I could teach my younger self what to do.

                I would only work referrals from buyers. No cold calls (although they were profitable)

                I would only see people who had previously bought from an in home salesman before. i would get lists of buyers of any product sold in people's homes. I would work to trade lists of customers with top salespeople in other companies. I would go back every 5 years to customers, and show them the newest thing.

                These are things I did the last 10-15 years...but I would just do them from the beginning.

                I would still sell vacuum cleaners, because it's a less serious sale. I don't have to act as concerned or show as much empathy as when I sold insurance.

                And I would buy my books. In fact, they would explain pretty much everything I needed to learn back then.

                And I wouldn't have hired any salespeople. Even though I made more money, with a crew...It was never very much fun for me.

                And I wouldn't have married my first wife.
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          • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
            Originally Posted by Zodiax View Post

            Stephen Schiffman says that 1/3rd of the people you sell to will buy no matter what you say.

            I imagine the bulk of the 50% of buyers were those. You could have been half drunk and they would have brought.
            Wow, that is pretty damn insulting. I fairly sure you did not mean it that way,
            but I am also sure Claude wont tell you ... so I will.

            It takes hard work and dedication to become a master salesperson ...
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            Selling Ain't for Sissies
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        • Profile picture of the author Robscom
          Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post


          And the people that didn't buy? For a few years, I would repeatedly call them back.

          If they didn't buy the day I saw them, they almost never bought later. This fed the idea that they were either buyers or not...more than it was a timing thing.

          In fact, I almost always sold someone who had bought from an in home salesperson before. This confirmed the idea that they were either the type to buy, or the type to not buy. It would have been impossible that the timing was just right on all of these sales.
          Thank you for sharing (and explaining) that. It makes a lot of sense.
          Signature
          "Do. Or do not. There is no 'try.'" -- Yoda
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    • Profile picture of the author Marcus W K Wong
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      I used to sell vacuum cleaners for $1,500-$2,000 in people homes. I did it for as few decades. You may find this interesting.
      Does this mean you and I both sold Kirby Vacuums? lol
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by WFMarcus View Post

        Does this mean you and I both sold Kirby Vacuums? lol
        I sold life insurance for about 2 years, then Kirby vacuums for 9 months, then I got my own distributorship selling Tri-Star vacuums for about 35 years. Then I got the state of Ohio for Thermax cleaning systems for a few years, and then decided to just sell at retail and opened a store. Total? 40 years.

        Also, the last 8 years, I've had my own business speaking to sales groups and selling Local Profit Geyser...a local online marketing service.

        I'm on the tip of retiring from everything but writing more books.
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    • Profile picture of the author Cristy94
      Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

      I used to sell vacuum cleaners for $1,500-$2,000 in people homes. I did it for as few decades. You may find this interesting.

      I had been selling for a decade or so, I was selling about 50% of the people I was showing my product to. A respectable result, even for an experienced cold canvasser.

      But 50% of the time, I would hear the same objections, over and over again. "I can't afford it! Now is not a good time. I'll have to get back to you. I'll have to think about it"

      As an experiment, I found a small set of medical encyclopedias that I could buy from the printer for about $7. The markup on encyclopedias is the highest of any direct sales. I sold them for $24.95. This is maybe the late 1980s.

      I simply didn't want to hear these objections again. And a $24.95 item is the very definition of "Impulse buy".

      The results? I spent a week selling them. And I sold.......yup.......50% of the people I showed them to. And the other 50%? I was still hearing "We have to think about it" and the other objections.

      So, what did I learn? That the price is almost immaterial. If they want it, they will buy it. If they don't want it, they won't. And the objections you get are nearly all just reflexive, not based on reality.

      The guy that says "Right now is a bad time. Come back in 6 months" will say that if the product is $2,000 or just $25. That realization came as quite a surprise.
      Unless the item itself is over-priced, I think this is a valid point. Anyway, the market today is different, in most countries no one buys anything being sold "at the door", as you can easily research the market and price of that item or alternatives in a second, or order something that you want online. It's very unlikely that you wanted to buy something but didn't buy it yourself and then this magic coincidence: a guy shows up at the door selling exactly what you wanted.
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      • Profile picture of the author Zodiax
        Originally Posted by Cristy94 View Post

        Unless the item itself is over-priced, I think this is a valid point. Anyway, the market today is different, in most countries no one buys anything being sold "at the door", as you can easily research the market and price of that item or alternatives in a second, or order something that you want online. It's very unlikely that you wanted to buy something but didn't buy it yourself and then this magic coincidence: a guy shows up at the door selling exactly what you wanted.
        You obviously have no cold calling experience. What are you doing on this thread?
        Signature

        'I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion'
        -Muhammad Ali

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  • Profile picture of the author Gallag97
    pretty smart, this way you can also take business with you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cristy94
    Unless the call is something that I wanted and expected (I requested the call) I would close the phone immediately, probably in a rude manner, as I hate any kind of spam, and this is worse than spam.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    Originally Posted by Zodiax View Post

    Heck- I'd be interested in hearing if anyone picked up the phone and sold imaginary crap just for the hell of it. It would be more funny if you got the prospect ready to purchase it!
    I don't want to talk about it.
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    Hi
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