Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Assume the basic sale, and go for quantity

My first job ever was telemarketing: renewing people's subscriptions to Time magazine. We worked on commission.

When I started, I used to meekly ask, “Um. Hello. Your subscription is coming up for renewal. I'm wondering if, maybe, perhaps, you might want to renew it again this year?”

After three weeks, they were going to fire me, because I was doing terribly. But the manager (Denise Koss) thought I was cute so she let me listen in to the top salesman on the floor. Here's how his calls would go. Pay attention to the difference in approach.

“Hi there this is George Amos from Time Magazine, and I'm calling to renew your subscription today. I notice you've been wasting money by renewing only one year at a time, $54/year, and I hate to see you waste money like that, so let's get you in for a three-year subscription, bringing your price down to only $25/year. That way, as the price of that one-year renewal keeps going up each year, it won't matter to you, because you were smart and got in at the half-price rate for three years. Now are you still at ___(their address)___?”

Now if they complained about the price of a three-year subscription, he'd say, “Ok I can tell you'd rather just do it for a two-year subscription, then.” If they complained about that, he'd say, “Alright - we'll do just a one-year renewal.”

It was amazing that almost every phone call he made renewed, whereas I would call 200 people and none of them would renew. After listening in to a few of his calls, though, I tried it myself, and became the top salesman on the floor. It's easy. Just get into the right mindset. You'd be surprised what a huge difference it makes.

A band on CD Baby called Celldweller did this wonderfully. When their new album came out, they emailed their fans and said, “Our new album is out tomorrow, and nobody anywhere has it yet. If you buy only one, the price is $12. But if you buy more than one, the price is only $9 each. So buy 10. It will cost you $90, but you'll be able to sell them to your friends for $12 each and make a profit.”

What's amazing is most of them did! Most who didn't buy 10 would apologize at the end of the order form, saying, “Sorry I don't have $90 now, but I'll buy 5 copies today and come back for 5 more soon.”

They sold 3000 CDs in no time at all.

Assume the basic sale, and go for quantity