Sell Like a Yellow Pages Rep, Part 2

John Tabita

Last week, I gave you the first four steps to selling like a Yellow Pages rep. Why would you want to do such a thing?

Because Yellow Page reps are among the best sales people. Companies like AT&T, Verizon and Yellowbook can afford to provide top-notch training, and they do (mine was nine weeks long).

What’s more, these companies have transitioned to selling digital products, and former Yellow Page trainers are now training digital reps.

I know, because I’ve been trained by them. And they teach the same selling techniques that have made Yellow Pages reps into savvy, street-smart sales people. Which means, this next generation of digital reps will be just as savvy. And you’ll need to sell against them. Here’s how.

(Part 1 covers the first four steps. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do so now.)

Recommend a Course of Action

Once your client’s convinced he’ll achieve results, that it’s worth the risk, and that you are the best man or woman for the job, you’ll need to recommend a course of action. Here’s where your planning and preparation pays off. Rather than slinking back to the office to “write a proposal,” you actually have one to present.

Always start with the higher-priced option. Assume the client is an aggressive marketer who wants the highest return for his investment. He’ll correct you, if not.

Remember, you can always go down to a less aggressive program, but you can never go up.

When presenting your recommendation, bundle everything into a single price. Breaking each item down à la carte style forces your prospect to analyze each to decide whether it’s worth paying for.

As an example, for a custom-built website, I would include design, copywriting, stock photography and one year of hosting, and quote that as one price.

Ask for the Sale

There’s nothing wrong with being direct and asking for the sale. In fact, I’m convinced the reason most of us “slink back to the office to write a proposal” is because we’re afraid. Instead, emailing a proposal and hoping it does the selling for us feels safer.

I prefer to hear yes or no and avoid “maybe” altogether … along with its variations, such as: “I’ll get back to you,” or “I have to discuss this with my wife/partner.”

Maybe sucks you into an endless loop of follow-ups, and unanswered phone calls and emails, until you eventually give up, leaving you to agonize over whether you should have made “just one more” follow-up phone call.

Repeat after me: “Maybe is the worst answer.”

Asking for the sale doesn’t mean being pushy or overbearing. It can be as simple as asking or suggesting the “next step.” After all, you’ve gone from being a complete stranger, introducing yourself in some fashion, setting up an appointment, meeting and building a level of rapport and trust, listening to his needs, offering value, and suggesting a course of action.

It’s only normal and natural to expect a next step in the process. The courtship is over; it’s time for a commitment. Yes or no—what’s it going to be?

After going through all this, I guess I just need closure. How about you?

You probably launched your own firm or started freelancing because you love to design or program and wanted to control your own destiny. But nothing happens until a sale is made.

Following these steps will ensure sure that happens—many times over.