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The Ruby Group | Akron and Columbus, OH

The STORY:

“I’m sick and tired of running around doing favor after favor for my clients,” stated Jim as he sat eating lunch with Melinda.

She looked up and asked, “What do you mean?”

“It’s like with that publishing company.  They needed a part for the press, and I took all day Saturday to drive out to the warehouse and back to get it for them.  All I got was a thank-you.  That’s it.  Nothing more.”

“What else?” she inquired.

“Well, three weeks ago I filled up my car with that special proofing paper for my advertising agency account, personally delivered it after hours, and what happens?  Did they refer me to anyone else?  No.  I’ve got scores of things I do for all my clients.”

“You don’t see what is missing?” gently asked Melinda.

“What do you mean?”

“That part you got . . . when you found out they needed it, did you get an IOU for something else?”

“A what?”

“Did you say, ‘I’ll get the part, but in return I need you to sit down with me on Monday morning to tell me whom, if you were me, you’d call on’?”

“Or,” she continued, “with the advertising agency . . . did you say, ‘I can bring the paper you need tonight, but when I do, we have to sit down and work out an ordering schedule so that this doesn’t happen to you again?”

“No,” responded Jim with a smile growing on his face, “but I see what you are suggesting.  Thanks.”


The RESULT:

Melinda gets additional sales because her clients don’t ever expect to get anything for free.  While she may not charge money, she does “charge” by getting an IOU for each and every favor completed.


DISCUSSION:

In the sometime rush to make a sale and/or keep a customer happy, it’s very tempting and easy to make an offer to do something.  Any good salesperson then feels, as she should, an obligation to make good on the offer.  The simple motivation on the salesperson’s part is that if the prospect or customer sees the salesperson going above and beyond, this will lead to a sale, either now or down the line.

Rarely does the salesperson consider this to be the slippery slope down which she slides to fewer and fewer sales.  Consider the free offer from the prospect’s/customer’s point of view; you are telling her that you will work for nothing.  Harsh, but accurate.


APPROACH:

There is nothing wrong with making an offer to do something that does not immediately result in a commission.  This is the essence of keeping good customers for life.  However, the offer to do something should always be paired with an IOU.  When the offer is paired with the IOU, the customer is making an implied mental contract with you.  “I do this for you; you do this for me.”

There are thousands of implied contracts that can be established.

A simple lead generation contract…

“I appreciate that you need the supplies, and I’ll be glad to take them to you.  When I get there, I’d like to spend a few moments learning who else you know that could use my service.  Would that be OK?”

A commitment to do additional business….

“Bill, what happens if, for some reason, I can’t make it on Saturday?”

“Well, our project will be late, and I’ll be in trouble.”

“When I get there, I’d like to setup some sort of vital supplies ordering schedule with you so that you don’t get into a tight spot.  Would this make sense?”

Always do whatever you can to keep a customer for life and, at the same time, create an implied contract so that the customer never expects something for free.


THOUGHT:
Getting an IOU for everything you do is as simple as telling the customer you expect one.

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