The Humane Society is a non-profit that raises money to save homeless and otherwise threatened animals. Someone over there got the bright idea to station workers in the streets of Miami to accost pedestrians and solicit donations on the spot.
The workers, for the most part though, have no idea what they’re doing and thus miss most of their opportunity via bad execution.
I see the workers often, sometimes wearing orange Humane Society vests; sometimes in plainclothes. They spot you coming from twenty feet away and position themselves where you can’t avoid them, smiling widely and sometimes offering a handshake. Their sales pitch — mind you, to a person who’s walking by — starts with the most benign and useless of questions.
It’s either, “Do you like dogs/animals?”
Or, “Have you ever heard of the Humane Society?”
By the time they get done asking and I get done answering, I’m past them and continuing on my way. If the Humane Society would help themselves by training their people to actually, you know, sell, I would gladly give a small donation on the principle of good salesmanship alone.
But because they suck, I don’t even stop walking, on this same principle.
One day last week though, they caught me.
The workers were positioned at a busy intersection, and happened to approach me just as I stopped for the 120-second red light. I’d get to hear their pitch in full.
Here’s what was said by them.
“Do you like animals?”
“Have you heard of the Humane Society?”
“Are you aware that we’re a not-for-profit organization?”
“Our biggest problem today is puppy mills and dog fighting rings — have you heard about either of those?”
Green light. I crossed the street and left them.
All of what they asked sounds like exactly what they are: beat-around-the-bush warm-up questions before the real question. Human beings are conditioned to tune this shit out and ignore it, which is what happens to these Humane Society people every day.
Whether I like animals or not doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter if I’ve heard of your organization, or what your government status is as a business entity. Your problems matter a little bit, but not much. Just get to the damn point!
In that same period of time, these clueless, under-trained workers could have said —
“We’re with the Humane Society, and All I ask is a $10 donation so we can save 6 dogs from being euthanized tomorrow morning.”
“As a non-profit, we depend on donations to keep animals alive. Could you donate $5 right now to save the life of a puppy?”
“I just want 30 seconds of your time and $20 of your money to find homes for animals we will otherwise have to put to sleep within 48 hours.”
They could have carried photos of actual animals who are really going to be killed for the emotional tie-in. These may or may not get your money, but they’d at least make you think about giving — and maybe cause a tinge of guilt if you didn’t.
THAT’S sales. I wrote The Seller’s Mindset to help you with this.
For Your Game
- When selling to a cold prospect (read: they don’t know you and never agreed to be pitched) — you have no time for formalities. Get straight to it: The Ask and The Reason. That’s it. Nothing more. Does a street beggar tell you his life story or ask how your day is going? No — it’s, can I get a dollar for something to eat? Ask + Reason. Nothing more.
- Any person can see a sales pitch coming a mile away. Which means your pitch needs to cut through our filters. The how-are-yous and softball questions bring my filters on full force. You lose.
- You still need to sell to make your money. So sell like you mean it. Don’t be weak, and don’t merely allude to your offer — put it in my face. Watch my Snapchat or Instagram story for a few days and see how I promote my products. Not that I just sell my stuff all the time, but when I do, you’ll know exactly what it is, why you’d need it, and how to get it. No beating around the bush.
Can you sell? What are your challenges with making a sale — of yourself, a product, an idea? Reply and let me know.