Assignment Selling: The Essential Sales Technique of the Information Age

by Marcus Sheridan

Assignment Sales Technique Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Assignment Selling’? Chances are, you haven’t, but let me assure you it may be the most important part of your business’ marketing and sales success in 2010…..that you’re not currently doing. Allow me to explain.

We’ve been talking a ton lately about content, education, and thinking like a consumer by  answering their questions.

No doubt, the phrase ‘Content is King’ is the latest rage, as well it should be. But what happens when content and information never get read? What happens when a consumer just breezes through it without truly making the effort to absorb its teachings?

The answer, as we all know, is Nothing. Nothing happens. Nobody learns. No progress is made.

When it comes down to it, ‘Content is King’ needs to be paired with the phrase ‘As Long as Someone is Actually Listening’.

To explain what I’m trying to say here let’s look at my other field—the swimming pool industry, as an example.

Often times prospects will excitedly call my store or send us an email requesting to have someone out to their house so as to give them information and a quote on a pool. And in most cases for just about every swimming pool company across the world, the process of setting up this appointment, other than a few ‘find-out’ questions, is rather pitiful.

I say pitiful because I used to be pitiful in my approaches with customers as well. They’d call, we’d talk, and bam—appt made. But before long I realized I was making one grave mistake—the homeowner didn’t have enough responsibility on their end. In other words, they were looking for someone to teach them in their home what they could already learn from the countless pages of content on my website.

Teaching vs Selling

Because of this lack of responsibility, I found myself spending too much time teaching prospects on sales calls and not enough time selling. And regardless of what anyone in the world might say, selling, and not teaching, is what ultimately pays the bills.

Upon realizing the error of my ways, I became much bolder with clients. In fact, I started giving them ‘homework’ before I’d come out to their house.

Yes, that’s right, I did just say homework.

For example, before I go on a sales appointment with an inground pool prospect I’ll send them the following information.

  • Our company reference list of over 600 customers
  • A 50 page eBook all about swimming pools and options
  • 3-5 Significant Articles from our company blog

As you can see, this is a lot of information—as well it should be. If someone is serious about a pool and knows they are getting ready to spend 30-70k, then they likely don’t want to make a mistake on their purchase—hence the call for great content and information.

When I set a sales appointment, I tell the prospect I expect them to read the information sent and check on the references as well.

And what if they say they don’t have time to read the info or seem uninterested?

Then I don’t go out to the home. Pure and simple.

When it comes down to it, if a consumer isn’t willing to do their due diligence when researching an expensive product or service, this means only one thing:

All they care about is price.

And as I like to say—When it comes to running a successful business, Price Ain’t Nice.

Since I made the switch to assignment selling a few years back, I now find sales appointments are much, much better. Prospects are clearly informed. Trust, because of the content, has already been established long before I arrive. And what about closing rates?

As you might imagine, they’ve shot up drastically as well.

Start Giving ‘Homework’ Today

So my question to you is what learning assignments do you give to prospects before your first sales meeting? Are you just asking a few simple questions or are you making sure the prospect demonstrates effort on their part as well?

If you’re not yet implementing this strategy into your sales system, please start today. Come up with some type of ‘homework’ for your clients and watch the dominoes fall as they may. I can promise you that if you take this leap of faith you will be greatly benefited and you’ll spend much more time selling vs teaching, you’ll be happier, and your wallet will reap the benefits.

Thoughts? Your comments are very much invited below.

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