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The Canned-Ham Approach to Long Distance Sales

Channel Partners

January 1, 1998

5 Min Read
The Canned-Ham Approach to Long Distance Sales

Posted: 01/1998

By Dan Baldwin

As unbelievable as it may seem, not everyone out there is just sitting around waiting
for us to call and sell them long distance (sad but true!). So what’s a hard-core
cold-calling long distance salesperson to do on a day when he just can’t make another long
distance cold call? Take a minute or two to consider selling long distance from a slightly
different angle.

Receptionists are used to listening for and screening out good folks like us attempting
to huckster a little long distance. They hear, "Hi, this is Dan Baldwin with XYZ
Telemanage-ment. I need to speak to the person who makes the decisions regarding the your
long distance phone service. Could you tell me who that is?" and respond by hanging

What can you do to keep them on the line? Next time, instead of the standard pitch
selling the standard product, try a new pitch selling a new product as a way of getting
your foot in the door to sell the standard product. (I am reminded of the successful
door-to-door vacuum salesperson who would knock on the door of an unsuspecting prospect
and then throw a canned ham into his arms as soon as he opened the door, saying,
"Hold this for a second! I’ll be right back!" as he raced to pull the vacuum out
of his car trunk.)

Try something like this: "Hi, this is Dan Baldwin with XYZ Teleconferencing. We’re
calling to schedule your company’s next conference call. Is the president’s executive
secretary available?"

When the secretary gets on the phone, say something like: "Hi, this is Dan Baldwin
with XYZ Teleconferencing, I understand you handle the scheduling of the company
conference calls. I’m calling today to get the information I need to send you over a free
Nordstrom’s gift certificate (this is the "canned ham") and a $100 off coupon
toward your next conference call for your boss!" When the secretary answers, you
reply, "Great. I just need the answer to one quick question. On average, how many
conference calls a month does your company do, how many people join the conference, and
about how long do they last?"

Assuming the answer is two conferences a month with five people each for an hour, you
say, "Two conferences a month with five people each for an hour. Great, it looks like
you qualify for the free Nordstrom’s gift certificate. The address to send that to you
would be . . . ?"

After you get the address, start closing the conversation: "Now let’s schedule the
next conference call so you can cash in the $100 off conference call certificate and save
your boss some money today." Once the call has been scheduled, you reply:
"Thanks. Oh hey, by the way (I call this one my "Colombo close"), we’re
giving away an additional free Nordstrom’s gift certificates to our customers who are
interested in using one of our $100 off long distance coupons . . ."

Pretty cool, huh? It’s not that people don’t want to buy long distance, they’re just
bored of buying long distance. Think about it for a second. Why do daytime radio shows
have so many crazy contests? To entertain bored listeners and to get them to do something
like dial a phone number to win a free trip (or buy their advertisers’ products). If you
want sell long distance, all you have to do is start throwing around a few canned hams!

To state it a bit more analytically:

Step 1 – Give the prospect a freebie (canned ham) to get his attention and to make him
feel a bit obligated to listen to a sales message;

Step 2 – Give the prospect something easy to buy, such as a cheap or free conference

Step 3 – Since the prospect now is a happy customer, offer him the easy long distance
add-on. (How many of us have purchased a suit without being sold a shirt, tie and belt to
go along with it?)

Freebies are easy since they tend to be self-financing. Just come up with something you
know people want. Make it fun by pulling in the season (pumpkins, turkeys, stuffed
Christmas stockings, Valentine getaway for two, etc.) To keep it nice and friendly, always
have something for everyone.

Giving the prospect something easy to buy is simple. Conference calling is great
because it’s easy and quite profitable. Many companies don’t use conference calling only
because they think it’s too expensive. However, almost anyone will use it if you give him
one for free. Call around to find a conference company that will help. Summons Conference
Calling, for example, gives away $100 worth of conferencing and has a very agent-friendly

You may end up adapting the conference call/long distance "one-two punch" as
your standard, since the companies that already are big conference-call customers also
spend a ton on long distance. Look for any company that does heavy tasking such as job
training and interviews, technical support, sales, legal meetings, press conferences,
financial meetings or board meetings.

Selling teleconferencing does not have the negative connotation that long distance
sales can have. Teleconferencing is perceived as more of a service, similar to Federal
Express and United Parcel Service, than as telecommunications. Best of all, the profit
margins on teleconferencing still are reasonable, hence agent commissions can be 10
percent to 20 percent.

If an agent has a sizable long distance base built, he can expect that 5 percent to 20
percent of his customers currently and regularly use teleconferencing (about one to four
conference calls per month). Hence, if an agent has 200 commercial customers, he can
expect to find 30 customers at an average billing of $100 to $1,000 per month. Assuming 30
customers per month average $500 per month, multiply that by 15 percent for commission per
month, and the agent can earn an extra $2,000 to $2,500 per month.

So, the next time you get bored of the same old pitch, give yourself and your prospects
a break. Throw around a few hams, sell some conference calling and soon you’ll find you’re
picking up long distance at the back door!

Dan Baldwin is president of his own sales agency, San Diego Telemanagement; US
Wats’ California agent sales manager and a board member for the One Plus Agent Association
(OPAA). Support the agent sales channel by joining OPAA as an agent or vendor member by
calling (619) 522-6221. Contact Baldwin via e-mail at [email protected].

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