Selling By Not Selling

I favor a concept I call "Selling by not selling." And it's proved very effective. I try to listen 80% and talk 20%, and this letter illustrates a favorite story.

I called a prospective company, and the HR Manager said she didn't need our service-she was happy with a competitor. Disappointed, I still wanted to meet her, so we had lunch. At her office, I said, "What's your favorite place?" And we walked six blocks to the restaurant. Along the way I asked a series of friendly questions and determined that her husband was nearing retirement. I offered to send him a pre-retirement book, which I did.

We had a delightful lunch, never once talking about our company-who we worked for, what we did. There was nothing about us. We had a delightful walk back to her office, and I sent her this low-key follow-up letter.  Emphasis on low key.

Two weeks later she called and asked me to provide outplacement for a president of one of her banks. The outplacement was a huge success, allowing the executive to relocate to a rural setting while remaining in banking.  I sent her this note after that friendly lunch.

January 26, 20—


Ms. Anne M. Black
Vice President
Regional Bank
1515 Arapahoe Street
Denver, CO 80202

Dear Anne:

Thank you for taking the time to see me. Our meeting was most enjoyable. You listened very carefully and asked a lot of interesting questions, and I appreciate that.

I hope we become good friends in the future.


William S. Frank
WSF/bk [my initials: word processor's initials]

P.S.—I am following up on the leads you gave me and will let you know what happens.

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