Salespeople often struggle with the best and most effective ways to communicate. In today’s very cluttered world of noise, it’s really a miracle to get a client’s attention at all. There are certainly many ways to go about getting a fair share of a buyer’s time, as well as his or her ear. My mother had an instance with her pet cat, Duffy, that I believe perfectly illustrates the lengths that are sometimes necessary to go to get attention in a critical situation.
My mom had her cat for many years before she was unfortunately no longer able to care for him. Duffy was healthy and had many years of life ahead, if the right home could be located to adopt him. She loved him dearly and the idea of putting him to sleep was not something that she would ever consider. The first step toward adoption was to catch Duffy in a cage—a task that was easier said than done. After many hours with several people chasing Duffy around the house, it was looking a bit hopeless. Duffy was hissing like a rabid raccoon and had gone into hiding. A bit desperate, my brother started researching other options, including a wild animal trapper that guaranteed results.
Happily, it never came down to that choice. Duffy was finally lured into a cage—but his story of adoption did not end there. We called every shelter within a 50-mile radius, but none would accept an older cat. We spread the word to everyone we could think of. My mother’s minister even told the congregation that Duffy needed a new home—still no takers. The clock was ticking as my mom’s house was on the market and sadly, the cat could not go with her. If time ran out, we might have been forced to make the very sad and painful decision to euthanize. It was then that the daughter of my mother’s best friend heard about the situation and got involved on social media. She engaged with a circle of animal lovers and those who are active in animal shelter. Things moved slowly at first with a lot of chatter, but no action. Then she had a brilliant idea. She used a bold subject headline on a post, one that had ultimate shock value— “Duffy dies in 24 hours without a new home.” Within a few hours, several offers of adoption were received. Duffy now lives on a large, peaceful farm in Pennsylvania.
As a salesperson, never be afraid to be bold, when necessary, to get your customer’s attention. By that, I don’t mean that this should be an everyday occurrence. But when you feel that the situation warrants, by all means create this type of memorable visual in your customer’s mind. It will change the status quo and spur action.
Rob Wardlaw is the associate publisher of Gulfshore Business magazine. firstname.lastname@example.org.