His request approved, the RNN photographer called the local airport to charter a flight. He was told a Cessna 172 would be waiting, and on arrival at the airfield, he spotted one warming up.

Carrying his leather bag, he jumped in, slammed the door and quickly blurted, “Let’s go.” The pilot dutifully taxied and took off.

Once airborne, the photographer instructed the pilot to fly low over the valley so he could get some good pictures of the fires on the hillsides. The surprised pilot asked why.

“I thought you knew I’m an RNN photographer and I need some close up shots.”

The pilot got real quiet and then finally fearfully stammered, “So, what you’re telling me is…you’re NOT my flight instructor?”

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Can you imagine how weird both those guys felt? When you hold a sales job and are dispatched to a market lead, you have no doubt heard responses equally as disconcerting. These responses can be very costly…costing you the sale. Do these sound familiar?

“We were just curious what it will cost, but don’t plan to do anything until next year.”

“We’re not ready; the house is still under construction.”

“We need to do some serious thinking about this before committing to move forward.”

“We don’t have any money since our bankruptcy last July, but just wanted an idea what it would cost.”

“At this point we just want an estimate so we can start saving for it.”

Comments like these make you want to quit and get a good job somewhere. And by the way, Murphy’s Law triggers these responses after you’ve completed an hour-and-a-half of windshield time, right? These folks never live just down the road from your office, do they?

The obvious answer to this dilemma is to teach all the dispatchers, receptionists, call center agents, etc. to follow a set of questioning talking points when answering market lead calls. That said, if our roles were reversed and I (Doug) was back in the field living on commission, I would always make a confirmation call PRIOR to driving to lead sales calls. I believe in packing my own parachute.

When making a confirmation call you don’t need to play “twenty questions.” Simply get a confirmation on the things that may typically throw you under the bus. For instance:


  • Ensuring both homeowners will be there for your meeting as it will be important for your recommendations and options to be heard by all the players. depending on what you sell it may also be important for all of them to be there to help “design” the system/components you involved in your recommendation. This gives you a chance to reschedule if they hadn’t planned to be there together. (I wrote some talking points for that situation in a post here.)
  • Asking how many estimates the prospect plans on getting prior to making a decision. Since you’re probably a premium provider this gives you a chance to “ask to be last.”(Again you can refer to my suggested talking point for this situation here.)
  • Determining a timetable for making a decision to complete their project.
  • Inquiring about a possible need for financing (if you offer), and pre-qualifying on the phone.

A simple and short confirmation call is always better than your manager having to keep you away from sharp objects or off of bridges, as follow-up’s and think about it’s pile up!


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