Anyone who works in an office with other people is familiar with the “Monday morning bait” routine. It consists of people fishing for questions about their weekend by making vague declarative statements. Statements like, “Boy, my back is sore from this weekend” or “Well, I learned something the hard way on Saturday”. These statements are uttered with one main purpose, to elicit a question that justifies the telling of a story they WANT to tell.

They don’t want to seem pushy or self involved by walking right up to a group of co-workers and saying , “I want to tell you about my weekend”. They want to maintain the illusion of detachment by getting someone else to say “Why? What happened? What did you do this weekend?”. They want to be asked.

While it is an obvious play, it still works. Curiosity causes at least a certain percentage of people to inquire further. It causes the storyteller to feel invited into telling the story.

As obvious as that tactic can be in real life, its subtler sales cousin is a highly effective technique. You have a story to tell. Getting your product information into the form of a response to a prospect’s question is an excellent way to identify genuine interest in the buyer, and maintain an equal footing in the conversation. You also want to be asked!!

The success of this tactic plays off the fact that no one really cares about HOW you can do something for them, until they first care about WHAT you can do for them. Any information you throw at them is premature unless you’ve first generated some interest for that information. You’re pushing that info, when in fact, the better scenario is getting them to pull it from you.

Imagine you’ve invented a widget (The DURPO) that harnesses thermal power to eliminate any food spoiling in a fridge for up to a year. The classic sales model used by most companies involves filling their sales people’s heads with mounds of fascinating information on HOW the DURPO does that, then releasing them into the wild with flyers, brochures and videos to go throw up all that information on poor unsuspecting customers, restaurant owners and kitchen managers.

The problem with that approach is that the restaurant owner has no interest in how the DURPO works, until he’s interested in what it can do for him. So walking around hosing down the leads with product information creates a lot of work presenting to prospects that are not really prospects because they have no real interest. It also annoys people. The fact that it is important to you does not make it important to them.

That leads us to the real question, “How can I get them interested if they won’t listen to all this fascinating information?

The answer is that you need to bait them just like that guy in the office on Monday morning. Speak to results (the What”) as your lead in, and spend time with the people who look up and ask questions around the “How”.

If I’m selling the DURPO, I’m going to leverage this technique the following way.

1 – Find the real “WHY” behind the value. Most restaurant owners don’t care about throwing food away, they care about the financial loss tied to it. The real power behind the value the DURPO can bring isn’t wasting food, it is wasting money.

2 – Do the math. Take that vague concept (wasted money) and calculate how much money the average restaurant loses on throwing away food each year. Let’s say I figure out that number to be $150,000. I’ve now got a specific PAIN to speak to.

3 – Set the bait. Early and often in my prospecting, I am going to make what seems like an outlandish claim (subtlety is not your friend in this case) likely to get the attention of prospects. ie “I can drive over $150,000 a year to the bottom line for an average restaurant”.

4 – Focus on the fish that bite, not the ones that swim away. Statements like that are going to cause some eyebrows to go up. Some people will walk away silently. Those are suspects. They either don’t own a restaurant, don’t care about $150,000, are not willing to believe that can be done or have some other issues that makes them a very LOW percentage to close. Many others, however, will look up and say “What? No way? How can you possibly do that?”

Those prospects have SELF IDENTIFIED as higher percentage valid prospects, because they are interested enough in the subject matter to want proof. They are asking “HOW?” and hence have qualified to be presented to. Your most limited asset is time. Spend time on the higher percentage prospects.

I know you want to tell your story as a salesperson. It is likely a good story. Like the Monday morning baiter though, your odds of someone listening to and hearing that story go way up when it is in the form of an answer to a question that they asked!

Here’s a question. Do you have those “bait” comments identified and prepared? Do you have the core “WHY” identified for your product/service? If you don’t, that is your starting point. Hold your product information for the prospects that ask you, or more accurately, for the prospects you succeed in baiting to ask you.