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Being Creative With Prospecting

Choice Hotels (named by Forbes as the “Most Innovative Hotel Group in the Nation”) recently participated in a Winning Sales Habits workshop with some interesting results when it comes to approaching prospective clients.

pizza-257x300-150x150In the course of the morning, the sales professionals were asked to speak in small groups about any creative/innovative methods that they have used to get in front of a decision-maker.  After a spirited discussion, the clear winner was a person who had tried (and repeatedly failed) to land an account.  He wasn’t even initially able to get a meeting with the potential client.


The salesperson decided to keep pursuing his goal of a first meeting with the prospect, but not to stress out about it.  He just relaxed, had fun – and let the ideas flow (key components to creativity).

So, he created an award (he just made it up) for all of the employees of the targeted company.  The prize was for everyone!  No one knew what the contest had been, but the all knew that they had won, and were getting pizza … roughly $250 worth of pizza, as the award.

The salesperson was there when the pizza guy came to the prospective client’s office and asked the delivery guy if he, himself, could carry the pizza in.  And, by the way, could he borrow his apron and hat as an appropriate costume.

He paid the guy, donned the outfit, and began handing out pizzas. He knocked on the office door of his intended target and ushered himself in with the final pizza.  There were cheers and laughs all around when he announced that, in fact, this had all been a ruse to get a meeting with the prospective buyer.

He landed an appointment for the next day, and it ultimately concluded with him selling a million plus dollars’ worth of business


If you’re not getting anywhere by using the “appropriate channels,” you won’t lose anything by using “inappropriate ones.” Our guy knew there was no chance to get business using the professional channels, so he took the risk of spending $250 and becoming a (highly paid, it turns out,) pizza guy.

He told that borrowing the pizza outfit was a spur of the moment idea, but the whole episode was carefully planned. Once you get creative, it spawns itself…you see more ways to be creative and life becomes fun again.

Congrats to the “Pizza Man,” and maybe Choice Hotels should institute a sales creativity award with the goal of becoming #1 on the Forbes list again.

Peter Rock (2)Note:  Choice Hotels was the final Winning Sales Habits program conducted by our fantastic friend and colleague Peter McLaughlin before he passed away this fall.  In his memory, think of (and share) one creative or innovative prospecting idea that could help you get in front of that hard to crack client – he would like that.

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