Leads are good, appointments are better
By Karlan Tucker
Some of the most successful salesmen I have known make big incomes despite the fact that they are average closers. Their success has come from being in front of prospects every single day.
When you have many opportunities to close someone every week, it's amazing how that fact alone makes you a better closer. Your confidence goes through the roof and, since people care more about your confidence than they do your competence, it's a huge factor in your success. You respond more quickly and with more effective answers as you remember what worked so well just hours earlier.
I attribute much of my success to solving the prospecting problem early in my career. Let's solve it for you too, so you can enjoy similar opportunities.
I have averaged three appointments a day for more than 15 years of my 28-year career. It's hard to describe the level of satisfaction and joy -- and the sense of accomplishment -- that comes from staying that busy. Some days, all three appointments were first appointments, while other days I would have a mixture of first and second appointments. I had days where appointments cancelled, leaving me with just two and occasionally, one. I had other days where I scheduled four in case one or more cancelled and all four held. I have had days that are so busy I wished I would get a cancellation.
Okay, so how do we get you from where you are to where you want to be in the number of presentations you are giving daily, weekly, etc.? You have to walk before you run, so I'll describe how I got here so you can learn from my mistakes and successes.
Early on, I started out giving seminars; it just fit my personality. Not everyone is comfortable with seminars, but it doesn't matter. I'll show you how to have great success with a variety of marketing methods.
In those early years, I conducted one seminar per month for 10 months of the year. When I complained to my wife that we weren't earning enough and that I wasn't busy enough, she suggested I conduct two seminars and conduct them every month of the year. I mumbled something about the extra cost and organization required to maximize my investment in the seminars. I also remember thinking that I wasn't sure I wanted to work that hard. In kinder words than this, but with the same meaning, she basically told me to put up or shut up. I now had a dilemma. I asked myself how badly I wanted success. Did I want to win the lottery (i.e., not work for my success [in which case I would not experience it]), or was I determined to be successful -- no matter the cost? If you know me, you know accepting mediocrity is not in my personality. So, I made a commitment to myself and my wife. I determined to do whatever I could to maximize our success in life, to leave no stone unturned, to not accept no for an answer, and to remove or go around every roadblock as it presented itself. At the end of the day, wherever we end up, I will know that I did my very best and would have no regrets.
So right now, I would like you to determine that you will do whatever it takes to be successful. I can assure you that it's well worth the effort. In fact, the harder you have to work to achieve success, the more you will appreciate said success.
Once I made that commitment to myself and my wife, I immediately went to two seminars per month, and scheduled all 12 months in advance on that very day. I called the restaurants and reserved the rooms. Yes, had I not done all the seminars, there would have been a cancellation fee; however, that was an encouragement to me to not cancel while I was learning what it takes to realize success.
Several years later, I still felt like there was much more in me -- more energy, more capability, more confidence. So, I decided again to take my marketing to the next level. I added direct mail so that I could supplement my seminars with leads that I would call on the phone to set appointments. This again added to my activity. The next move was to start a radio show, which generated an average of about 10 leads weekly. Then I took out one-quarter page ads in the Rocky Mountain News. Throughout time, with a better negotiated rate, I moved up to half page ads. I also added radio ads on Denver's 50,000 watt station, which also greatly increased our activity. Then a few years ago, American Equity offered a million dollars to their number one salesman in a contest, a challenge I couldn't let pass, and I increased my seminars to one a week. Even now, I find opportunities to challenge me. My latest passion is learning how to maximize referrals from my current client base. If you aren't hungry for success, you'll never be wildly successful.
I realized many years ago that I was able to create a lot of leads, but then I needed to turn them into appointments. I thought about this one night as I was watching the television show called Rescue 911. A parent called in and said her child was choking. The 911 operator flipped open a cardex file and read how to save the child's life. I thought to myself, "That's exactly what I need." We all keep hearing the same objections over and over, "Just send me something in the mail;" "I need to think about it;" "Is what you are describing an annuity?" etc. So I created my own cardex file, which I call my Object-A-Dex(TM). Every time the phone rings with a lead, my staff and I have an Object-A-Dex(TM) in front of us to greatly enhance our ability to consistently answer the same questions and objections that we hear over and over in the most effective way possible, which more often than not then turns the lead into an appointment. Recognizing a need, thinking about how to fix the problem of not turning enough leads into appointments, and seeing the Rescue 911 television show episode while this was on my mind all came together to help me create one of the most valuable tools of my personal practice. To have a successful practice, you must constantly be thinking about ways to improve.
Today, I am living proof that with determination, you can get there. In fact, I can now easily generate far more appointments in a day than I personally could ever handle. As a result, my choices were to either back off of marketing or hire help. What do you think I did? You're right; I hired additional staff to help with the back office and hired additional in-house sales staff to help with the overflow. Today, my office staff and I see up to 10 appointments daily.
The more people you help get what they want, the more you will receive. Our sales were up 60 percent in the year-over-year period ended with the month of July. Life is good, and I'm very busy helping lots of people. I love it, and I'm sure you will too. I wish you great selling!