The Pitch and The Person

I was having lunch on a patio in downtown Denver on the 16th St Mall. Just off the patio there was a person trying to raise money for Planned Parenthood.  Her pitch went something like this; “Do you support Planned Parenthood?”

If the person passing by said yes, she responded with; “Would you be willing to help me out?”

The number of people who said they supported Planned Parenthood was pretty high.  It seemed like almost 70% of the people she approached were supporters. Unfortunately, not one “supporter” stopped and talked to her. They were all too, busy, didn’t have time, no interest, etc.  You can picture it.  No one wanted to stop, in spite of being a supporter of Planned Parenthood.

Let’s break this down.

Her first question was a qualifying one.  It determined if the pedestrian was a potential sale. It qualified them as a supporter of her cause, which is a critical element in making the sale.  However, after she qualified them, she fell on her face. She had no hook.  She offered nothing to the qualified prospect that would capture their attention, nothing that would hook them enough to stop and listen further.  Instead she put it on them, asking for a favor.  Her approach did not take into consideration the context and environment of her prospects. They were all going somewhere, they had a destination. They were going back to work. They were headed to lunch. They were shopping. What they weren’t, was in the market to make a charitable donation.

The sale was a disruptive sale. It was disrupting them from what they were currently doing. A disrupting sale requires a good hook. It requires a compelling story to capture the prospects attention.

I called the girl over and offered her some advice and shared my thoughts around the importance of the hook.  She told me she was required to follow a script.  I asked how the script was working out.  Not so good, she said.  I asked her what she was being paid for, to follow a script or raise money.  She said raise money.  Your choice then, I said.

She walked away and thanked me.  She never asked me if I was a Planned Parenthood supporter.  She never asked me to donate. Once back in her spot she continued with the same pitch.  After 20 minutes of more failure she moved to the other side of the street.  Ahh, that was the problem.  She was on the wrong side of the street.

The pitch and the person, they were both wrong.

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