If you stand in the street offering a Free Prize Draw to total strangers there are always going to be two questions that come up: “What’s this all about” and – rather less often – “Who are you”.
I have covered many times what to say to the first (but to save you searching, I’ll give you the answer…)
“What’s it about? Ah, you mean ‘What’s the catch?’”
- Yes, what’s the catch?”
“Well, the catch is that if you can’t run faster than me, I get to ask you four questions. Is that OK?”
The second question which people ask is the easy one: “Who are you?”
In my case the answer is absolutely brilliant because it opens up a wonderful avenue for rapport-building. As you might have guessed, the answer in my case is “John Passmore” and, where I live in Suffolk, the Police and Crime Commissioner is a man named Tim Passmore. He’s terribly nice, works amazingly hard and gets his picture in the local paper almost every day – which is no doubt why he keeps getting re-elected.
And, of course, when I tell people my name, they always say: “Any relation to the Police Commissioner?”
This provides me with a cue as loaded as anything in pantomime: “Well, if you’re a traffic officer stopping me for doing 70 miles an hour on the Orwell Bridge, he’s my brother. Otherwise, I’m sorry, no relation…”
By the time we’ve gone through that, do you think my new prospect is ready for the four questions?
So the other day I was about to go through this little performance when the woman asking the questions stopped and said: “Did you have a child at Kyson Primary School?”
- Well, yes I did – four actually…
Then I looked again at her name … and she had taught all of them! So of course at this point I had to explain that the oldest is in his final year of English with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, the next one has just been offered a place by Plymouth Medical School, Number Three is doing her GCSE’s and currently aspiring to a career in journalism while the youngest is in Year 9 at the local high school and has never wanted to be anything but a lawyer for as long as anyone can remember (something in which he should excel, given his aptitude for argument…)
Now, I know this sounds like one of those awful Christmas Newsletters you find parodied in the Guardian but the fact is that none of it would have been possible without the hard work and patience of the primary school teacher and her colleagues. So I made the point of emphasising this – and asked her about her life in retirement. I can’t tell you much about that for fear of identifying her.
But what with one thing and another, we finally got around to the four questions and now I shall be going to see her on Thursday to introduce her to my Network Marketing business.
But it was only later, thinking about all the other teachers who had been so much a part of our lives for twelve years, that I realised I had, at one time or another, attempted to prospect every one of them – and failed miserably on each occasion.
So what made the difference?
I may be wrong but here’s my take on it: All those attempts to turn a social situation – a quiet moment after class, a cup of tea in the interval of the school play – into a pitch for my business, was seen as just that… a crass attempt to sell something.
Standing in the street with a clipboard full of Prize Draw forms – it’s obvious that I’m selling something – and proud to do it.*
I know I get into trouble for “bucking the system” but I think this proves that there is no one way to succeed in this business. You hear people saying that Network Marketing is not about selling. It’s about recommending…
This sounds comforting and for some people, undoubtedly it works. But the plain fact is that if money changes hands, something just got sold.
And if nobody sold anything global commerce would cease to exist overnight. So if you’re happy to admit that you’re in sales, stand up, be proud – especially in the street…
* If the Police and Crime Commissioner is reading this, I should explain that in fact, I am not selling anything in the street – that is illegal without a licence. In fact what I am doing is canvassing – the sale comes later…
|Date/Venue||Time||Minutes||Asked||Email/brochure & Callback||Appointment|
|5.1.17 City Center||1.52 – 1.56||4||1||1|
|1.56 – 2.01||5||4||1|
|2.01 – 2.08||7||6||1|
|2.08 – 2.13||5||1||1|
|2.13 – 2.18||5||9||1|
|2.18 – 2.27||9||4|
|2.27 – 2.35||8||1||1|
|2.35 – 2.38||3||1|
|2.38 – 2.42||4||2||1|
|2.42 – 2.47||5||3|
But if the people you know don’t like or at least don’t trust you, we do have a teensy weensy bit of a problem.
If the people you know are suspicious of you branching out from your “proper job” or this is the third or fourth home business you’ve tried or they just think you want to use their friendship to sell them something, you really do need the Cold Market.
Of course you could get together with some other distributors from your company and book a stand at a public event and spend your Saturday meeting people you don’t know – and, certainly, that will work.
I just happen to think it’s easier if you find the perfect hat in the first shop you try.
– Hold on, what has this got to do with hats?
You see, this is not really a story about Network Marketing. It’s really a story about a hat. I bought it at the London Boat Show – oh, it must have been six or seven years ago but it was not a yachting cap. It was a brown leather baseball cap made by Stetson of the USA. It cost a fortune – something like £30 as far as I remember, which is a lot for a baseball cap. But I loved it. It got lost a couple of times but I made a huge effort and found it. But this time it’s been gone for too long. I still have hopes that it will turn up in some obvious but unexpected place along with my prescription sunglasses. However, now that winter is here, my head is getting cold.
So I drove into Ipswich, bought a one-hour car park ticket and set out to do the rounds – after all, this was no ordinary hat I was replacing. This may take time.
In fact, I found it in the very first shop and it was the only one I tried on. It’s not really as good as the old hat but it will be warm, it looks all right and it cost only £12.
Now, what all this has got to do with Network Marketing is that by the time I had browsed around, bought a sweater and a pair of trousers and mooched about thinking how much I hate Christmas shopping, I was back on the street with 20 minutes left on the car park ticket – time to do a little prize draw in the street.
The trouble was that my favoured spot was five minutes away – and I was already five minutes from the car park. If it was going to happen, it had to happen here and it had to happen now. The trouble was that I was standing in a broad pedestrian precinct – where people would have plenty of space to avoid me if I adopted my usual tactics of holding up my form and telling them what they could win. In this sort of environment, you don’t want people to know what’s going on until they’re on top of you.
So instead I picked a likely prospect, appeared to notice them at the last moment and said: “Ah, this is for you…”
(You do have to guard against the tremendous temptation to stand there looking at all the passers-by, waiting for the perfect prospect – and never actually get around to asking anyone). But on this
Of course, you may pick the wrong one. On this occasion, the first turned out to speak not a word of English yet insisted on going through the whole procedure anyway.
So I was there for a total of ten minutes – and the second and only other prospect was a lovely lady who I shall be seeing on Monday morning. All I can tell you so far is that she is interested in what I have to offer and she has a border collie. Border collies are lovely dogs – very intelligent and if they’re not herding sheep they need to learn tricks or they get bored and make trouble. Apparently, this one is just perfect (bit of rapport-building there).
And I still got back to the car park in time.
Anyone who ever had an appointment with a prospect will be familiar with the dilemma: You’re running late. Do you call?
If you do call you are giving them the opportunity to say: “Oh, I’m so sorry. Something’s come up. Can we do it another time…”
Whereas, if you just turn up on the doorstep – even if they had forgotten you were coming – the chances are they’ll feel sufficiently apologetic to let you in.
But of course we’re not desperate are we?
So when I set off yesterday, I was only two minutes down the road when the call connected and the excuse came out of the speakers: “The school’s just phoned and one of the children is ill. They want me to go and collect her. Can we do it another time?”
– Of course. When would you like? Hold on let me pull over and get my diary…
In fact it was a very good and friendly conversation. Wednesdays are best for her so it’s going to be next Wednesday at the same time.
There was a time when a lost appointment – or even a rescheduled appointment was a disaster – if you’ve only got one a week, there goes your whole week.
But you have to look at the reason I was running late. If you look at the statistics below you will see that I spoke to eight people in 42 minutes. The trouble was, I only intended to do half an hour of prize draw – that would have given me time to walk home and drive to the appointment.
But as you can see, I started at 11.51 and half an hour later (at 11.22) I had spoken to five people – bang on the average – and had one appointment. The only thing that was not average was that nobody had said no.
I had five new names on my list and all was well with the world.
So what was the hold-up? Well, it was the next person – the one at 12.22.
I was just about to put away the forms when she walked past and said “Good morning”.
So I said “Good Morning” and she said “Here again…”
Which made it rather difficult for me not to say: “This is for you. You can win…”
… and three minutes later, we had an appointment for next Wednesday morning when she gets back from taking the children to school.
It wasn’t so bad – only three minutes behind schedule. I went to untie the dog from the drainpipe when a friend came past – a good friend. One of those friends you see all the time, so you don’t have to make a point of ringing them up to pitch them because you know the topic is going to come up in conversation.
She smiled: “Hi, John…”
Of course then she looked at the forms and said: “You’ve already done me…”
Which I had. She’s been a customer almost a decade and pays me well every month.
But No, I said: “Did you know about the lightbulbs? You can get all your lightbulbs changed for nothing…”
The only trouble was I was now I was six minutes behind schedule…
Of course it grew to 10 minutes by the time I got home and found the iPad and the car keys.
But it was while on the way back after the cheerful cancellation – in fact within a minute of the cheerful cancellation – that the music cut out and a call came in: “Er – my husband picked up a leaflet and it said I ring for more information…”
Time to pull over again. I began to write down her name and address. I looked at them a second time. The surname – and particularly the address – were identical to those on the envelope on the passenger seat. The one I was due to deliver on my way home.
“Well isn’t that extraordinary! I have a letter addressed to your husband right here. I was going to pop it through your door on my way home – which in fact is going to be in about one minute because I’m at the end of your road now. If you like I could knock on the door instead…”
As it happened she was just about to go out so instead it’s going to be Friday at 3.00 p.m.
Don’t you just love Network Marketing?
|Date/Venue||Time||Minutes||Asked||Email/Brochure & Callback||Appointment|
|11.51 – 11.59||8||9||1|
|12.05 – 12.12||7||5||1|
|12.12 – 12.16||4||3||1|
|12.16 – 12.22||6||4||1|
|12.22 – 12.27||5||1||1|
|12.27 – 12.30||3||1||1|
|12.30 – 12.33||3||1||1|
They say the answer to all of life’s questions can to be found in The Godfather (What day is it? Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday… What should I take? Take the gun, leave the cannoli…)
Equally it can be found in The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:” Never a trust a life-form if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”
And never trust a network marketing company if you can’t see where the money comes from. This is particularly appropriate now – as we observe the troubled My Advertising Pays and remember Banners Broker. But here is a very sorry story: A company that appeared to have a fantastic product. A distributor who gave her all to promote it…
Next month is the Autumn Convention. Anyone in the world of Network Marketing will know that in the month before the Big Convention we are all on a mission – we need to hit Double-Diamond Starship Commander status to get to the conference in Cancun – we need another 20 contracts to get the Maserati – we need this for that or the other for whatever.
In short, we need some activity.
The only trouble is that the Autumn Convention comes right after the Holiday Season – which means I have spent the last week with my family at the seaside doing all the things we have done every year since the children were little – and even though they’re now in their teens and twenties, we still do the same things because… because…. Well, it’s a tradition.
So we had sausages by candlelight in the beach hut on the first night and cockles from the fisherman’s hut and walked to Walberswick in the rain (only it rained just the once about ten years ago) and went to the Summer Theatre (The 39 Steps)…
And this year for the first time, there was a new activity. Every day Dad went into town for an hour of Prize Draw. In the seven days we were there I added 70 names to my list and signed up a new distributor (right there in the street). It didn’t interfere with the holiday and it was a great boost to the business just at the right time.
But none of that compares with what happened today. Today we were home and the trouble is that once you’ve done something every day for a week, it becomes difficult to break the habit. The plain fact was that I just had to get out there with my little satchel over my shoulder and my wad of prize draw forms. The only trouble was that today is Sunday and the town centre was deserted. It shouldn’t be: Shops stay open on Sundays now – and this was Holiday Season. It should be crowded with visitors. But you can’t argue with the facts. The Town Centre was deserted.
But habits – even new ones – die hard. The next stop was the river wall where people stroll on a Sunny Sunday. That too – for some inexplicable reason – was similarly empty.
In desperation the third stop was the boating pond. The good thing about this concrete rectangle filled with two feet of murky water is that they’ve now relocated the tea hut next to it. The place was teeming – and better still, teeming with people hanging about watching the children who in turn were watching the grown-up children sailing their radio-controlled boats.
Now, if you look at the statistics below and compare them to previous statistics you will notice something quite extraordinary: The “asked” column contains only the figure “1” – five times I invited people to enter my free prize draw and five times they said “yes”.
Starship Commander, here I come…
|11.45 – 11.47||2||1||B,C|
|11.49 – 11.57||8||1||B,E,C|
|11.57 – 12.02||5||1||B,E,C|
|12.02 – 12.07||5||1||B,C|
|Total||24mins||5||5B, 3E, 5C,|
On the company Facebook page someone was complaining about going to an appointment and finding nobody home. Instantly the post was deluged with people saying the same had happened to them – and I was able to add my pennyworth….
I turned up once to find no-one there. I thought “Maybe they’ve gone out and they’re a bit late back.” So I sat in the car and made some phone calls for ten minutes. The trouble was I got a bit carried away and was still there happily dialling away an hour later. This was when they felt they couldn’t stay imprisoned in their own house any longer. They erupted from the front door like Bonnie and Clyde coming out of the bank, leapt into their car and screamed off nearly taking my bumper with them. I put them down as “No for Now”.
Well here’s how it came about. A week ago yesterday – which was a Bank Holiday Sunday – we had a crisis: Hugo, who is 13, had decided that he was going to spend the whole bank holiday weekend on the X-Box. But there was one problem (no it did not have to do with fresh air and exercise): The battery in his headset had died. Without the battery in his headset, how was he to talk to teenagers in Japan and Slovenia? And this was no ordinary battery. This was a CR2 battery.
Since I was about to walk the dog, would I (please, please) go down to the town and get him a new battery. He was on Level 796 and if he didn’t get to Level 797 by teatime he would implode.
We began a short period of negotiation. People who have seen me negotiate with Hugo say I am a wimp. In my defense, I should say I had the same trouble with his oldest brother who is now a high-powered corporate lawyer who helps Russian oligarchs sue each other for billions. I came away with a promise that Hugo would venture out in the afternoon just long enough to join his friends in disrupting the traffic with their skateboards.
And so it was that I found myself in the Cheap Shop. Actually it’s called something else which I can’t remember but in our family it’s always been called The Cheap Shop just as the smelly bookshop is called “The Smelly Bookshop” because way back at the turn of the millennium there was a man in there with the most dreadful body odor. Anyway The Cheap Shop sold CR2 batteries – and although they were cheap, they would probably see Hugo through the Bank Holiday weekend.
It was while I was fishing out the modest few coins which is all The Cheap Shop demands that I became aware of a consternation. One of the assistants came in to announce: “There’s a dog tied up outside.”
Well of course there was a dog tied up outside. It was my dog. So many shops won’t allow dogs that I leave her outside by default. Even the stationers doesn’t allow dogs – and they don’t sell so much as a chocolate bar by way of “food products”.
Before long all three assistants were outside making a fuss of the dog. Once they realised they were all outside at the same time, one of them had to come back in to take my money – and then, of course, had to go outside again with the one “food product” the shop did stock (dog treats behind the counter).
None of this will come as any surprise to anyone who has seen the dog waiting outside a shop. I think I once parked her too near an RSPCA poster and she copied the expression. By now she had gathered a small crowd saying “Aaah,” and “Poor little thing – been left all alone have you…”
One way and another there was a good deal of fuss and introductions and explanations that the manageress used to have a spaniel called Bouncer. Not any more though. She doesn’t have time for another dog. Not with a family and two jobs and…
Can you see an opening here for a Network Marketer? I think the lady from the Cheap Shop is going to make a great distributor.
This morning I tried to explain all this to Hugo. All I wanted was a picture of him with the X-Box. It would look great on the Blog. More people would read it – and sign up for the Cold Market Academy. I would make money.
I could buy him more CR2 batteries, for heaven’s sake…
I make no apologies for posting this one again. It comes from November last year and I couldn’t find the photo until I stumbled on it this evening. In fact the picture doesn’t match the story at all – it was taken at Christmas the previous year. But hey, who’s going to let the facts get in the way…
You get to an age when you don’t approach attractive young women any more.
For one thing it’s pretty pointless and for another I just can’t take the rejection.
As a Network Marketer, I should be used to rejection – but it does cause a bit of inner turmoil because attractive young women make particularly good Network Marketers. Get them started in any kind of Multi-Level Marketing or Direct Sales business and they just tend to fly.
So there I was on my way to the big leadership conference. I had been talking non-stop on the hands free to the team. I was, as you might say, “In The Zone” when, walking into the Motorway Services for a bite of lunch, I was confronted not by one attractive young woman but by four of them. I just remember this overwhelming impression of wall to wall big eyes and sparkling teeth and red lips and …. well, you get the idea (and, of course, the big booming voice in my head saying: “Don’t look there, don’t look there…”
And all of this would have been fine had it not been for the leader of the pack latching onto me as effortlessly as a lioness brings down an ageing and infirm old Wildebeest.
Whatever it was she said brought me to an abrupt halt. I have no idea what she did say because at the time all my senses seemed to be fully occupied with the big eyes, sparkling teeth and red lips at close range. Also by this time she had her manicured and painted hand on my arm.
Over the next few minutes I became vaguely aware that my wife and daughter would be forever grateful if only I would take home to each of them a miniature black carrier bag. This was modeled on the sort of thing you see being loaded into the back of Bentleys in Kensington – only small enough to dangle from her polished index finger.
It was difficult to believe that anything so small could be worth £160 but that was what she said the make up inside it should really cost – but I could have it for nothing…. provided I bought this small black cylinder with a brush which popped out like something in a Christmas conjuring set. The small black cylinder was priced at only £27.99.
It was only now that I found my tongue (I have a horrible suspicion that it might have been hanging out all this time). Anyway I was able to mumble something about my wife and daughter never forgiving me if I presumed to buy make up for them…
But once I managed to get the mouth working again, of course it went onto auto-pilot: “I must say you’re really good at this. Have you been in sales for long? Really? Well actually I’m always looking for good sales people. Tell me, have you ever thought of using the skills you’ve got in your spare time? You could earn a really good extra income – just as long as it doesn’t affect your full-time job, of course…”
And she said: “Is this Network Marketing?”
“It sounds as though you know all about it…”
And she did. She had been to presentations by two other companies and thought the concept was brilliant. It was just that this was her own company she was promoting – the three other attractive young women were her employees being trained up to run their own stalls in other motorway service areas. Next month she was off to America…
“But I do want to get into Network Marketing one day,” she said. “Maybe in two of three years when I can get someone to manage this for me…”
And she put down her conjuring set and took my phone and tapped away with her painted fingers and we’ll talk again in two or three years time.
I’d like to make that two…
As excuses go, this was quite a novel one: The new distributor said that his family wouldn’t talk to him and he didn’t have any phone numbers for his friends.
Instead we were going to call on them. It would be a nice surprise.
Maybe they weren’t really friends. Maybe it was having me in tow… maybe it was just too early on a Saturday morning. Anyway, it didn’t go very well. At the last door we got a “No” even before we got inside – one of those definitive, belligerent “No’s” that you don’t argue with.
It just made me so grateful for the Cold Market: While the new distributor was mumbling apologies and saying he couldn’t understand it, I said: “Don’t worry. I’ll find us someone to talk to.”
It did involve a 20 minute drive to the other side of town because that was where I had delivered my Written Invitations. With the air of a confident conjurer, I announced: “I want to show you something…”
And we walked up to the first door and rang the bell. Within two minutes we had made a new friend (not a belligerent one) and had his wife’s name and phone number because she deals with what we have to offer.
Now I should add that we knocked on a further five doors and got nowhere – and by that time it was starting to rain hard.
“Never mind,” I said, pulling another rabbit out of the hat. “Let’s ring up some old numbers.”
And so we did.
I have a lot of old numbers – I think about 3,500 and the vast majority of them are very badly organised. If there is an electronic equivalent of the bran tub that you find at the best kind of village fete, that is my Customer Relationship Management system. Anyway, I plunged my hand into the microchips and came up with a name. It appears I last spoke to him on December 2nd 2008. Never mind, I poked at the number on the screen and it began to dial: “I don’t know whether my name rings a bell…” I said brightly as I do a dozen times a day.
A bell did ring somewhere in his memory – and no sooner had I launched into my Magic Minute than he came up with the name of the company – not particularly difficult because it appears that no sooner had I prospected him as a distributor all those years ago, than someone else came along and signed him up as a customer – which he has been ever since.
However what they had not done – for which he will doubtless be very cross when he realizes what he has missed – is show him how the money works. I have a date to do that on Monday week.
My new distributor sat in the passenger seat while all this was going on. I’m not sure what he was thinking but I fancy it might have something to do with the question of why a pair of total strangers are happy to do what a long-standing friend plainly won’t.
I don’t have the answer. I guess it goes under the heading of “Isn’t that interesting…”