Bernard Lauper is the president of MacCorkle Insurance Services, a leading Insurance Service Provider in the Silicon Valley. Bernard is one of the nicest business people I have met. Whenever I visit his office, there is one thing that pops up immediately – his employees are happy and the effects of that show up positively everywhere. Bernard is also an angel investor with a heart – supporting entrepreneurs all the way. More about Bernard here.
Here is Bernard’s story of winning his first customer. Irrespective of what you are selling, there is a lesson to be learned from his story.
The product I was selling was Insurance Coverage – HMO
At the time employer’s were familiar with Kaiser but not companies like ours that were brand new and were offering an HMO like Kaiser but through private doctors and hospitals. My job was to reach out to employers and convince them that they could offer my company in conjuction with Kaiser or their existing insurance plan or put all employees on the HMO I represented.
My first customer started with a cold call. My first call did not go well but I told the prospect I would send company materials describing who we were in mail and would follow up. I followed up one week later and was told they were too busy to speak with me. I asked when a good time to speak to her would be and she told me for not at least 3 weeks. I called back 3 weeks later and reminded her that she had asked me to call her 3 weeks later. She sighed, but gave me enough time to start asking questions.
Based on the answers I recieved I was able to send her several aricles and reports that I thought might be of interest to her. I then followed up with another phone call but was still not able to get a face to face meeting. I once again followed up with written materials where I summarised the advantages of my HMO to her company, to her employees and to her persoanlly.
I was then able to arrange a face to face meeting where I was very lucky in that she litterally gave me all the information I needed to do a complete analysis for her. It took me 3 more face to face meetings but I won her trust and made the companies first sale and mine.
The challenge? Brand new salesperson with a brand new service and company. I was able to overcome them by asking the right questions, listening to what she and her company needed and then providing her with the solution to her issue
Lesson(s) learned? It does not matter how smart or good you are if you are not orgainised and do not follow up. In my buisness the sale is never made on the first call and most salespeople do not follow up. Do what you say you will do when you say you will do it and you will succed.
There is a tremendous amount written on how individuals and companies need to diffenentiate. while I agree with this differentiating before you do the basic block and tackling is like putting the proverbial cart before the horse.
If I have to sum it up, all I can say is that you have to: Crawl, Walk and then Run!
Have a great day!