Add a Little Google for Extra Zest in your Sales


Sam Richter has a phrase that can turn a salesperson into wizard and it has the same number of syllables as “abracadabra.”

It is based on the modern magic of the Internet. Richter, a sales coach who has helped thousands of people, reveals how web-surfing leads to better selling in his book, Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling. He expanded on those techniques in an interview with InsuranceNewsNet Publisher Paul Feldman in this month’s magazine.

He advocates using web searches to know your prospect, so it’s never a cold call. You go into a meeting ready to have a real conversation. Instead of asking how many employees a prospect’s business has, you can say, “I saw that you have 45 people working for you, is that right” Then he or she can agree or correct you, but you are starting with an assumption of some knowledge, rather than, “This salesperson knows nothing about me and expects me to trust him.”

The first few seconds are crucial to building rapport and that impression, good or bad, is hard to undo. The magazine feature explores different ways of finding and using information. But I will let you in on one of the secrets right here: the magic phrase.

Once you’ve gathered your background, how do you unveil it? You could easily come off a little stalkery if you just start whipping out details, especially if you got them from Facebook (don’t do that, by the way).

You say, “before I meet with someone, I like to do a little research for some background, so that I make sure we’re talking about things that concern you.” So far, so good – you’ve put down the groundwork and the prospect knows what to expect. OK, now that magic phrase: “and guess what I found.”

Who wouldn’t want to know? The prospect will be on the edge of the seat. “We went to the same school together! Go Fighting Wombats!” And you have a bonding moment. Other things you can find would be mutual friends that you can chat about. Maybe a shared hobby. Of course, you wouldn’t bring up the more unsavory stuff, like the really bad hair day he or she was having when that drunken driving mugshot was taken.

You might wonder if all this poking around the web is a big time-killer. And then you throw in all the social media that Richter and others say you should be putting out there. Isn’t that time best spent selling?

Actually, Richter would agree with you. In the case of being prepared for a meeting, he advocates a 3/5 rule, which is find three things in five minutes (or if you’re really good, five things in three minutes). But it shouldn’t be like you’re writing the person’s biography. That’s five minutes that can make the difference in a sale — a pretty good return on that time.

As for social media, he did a two-week experiment that he discussed in his blog. For one week, he made no sales calls but he spent all that time on social media: posting material, retweeting things, answering questions, offering opinions, and all the other stuff that social media experts recommend. Then he spent a second week working the phones, getting appointments and doing meetings.

At the end of the first week, Richter said he raised his Internet profile a bit and established his expertise, but he sold nothing. After the second week, he closed three pieces of business and one of them might be the biggest contract he’s signed. So, a really rewarding week, that was.

Richter’s point is that if you sell, you should be selling, not being a social media maven. Let somebody else in your office do that or outsource it, he said.

The Internet is a tool for good salespeople to make great sales, if they wield it wisely!



Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. Connect with Steve →

  • jbonay

    A very insightful and helpful article. I will be better prepared on future calls, but not a slave to the internet and social media. Thank you — a great reminder!

    • Steve Morelli

      Thanks! I encourage you to read the interview I linked to. Sam had really good techniques for using the information you dig up online!

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