Founded in late 1994, The Glass Protectors uses an innovative, patented method to repair and buff scratched glass. Instead of replacing scratched glass, The Glass Protectors' customers-primarily auto dealers and building contractors-get results indistinguishable from new glass, at one-third to one-half the replacement cost.
The Glass Protectors faces no real competition in the Chicago and Milwaukee markets it serves, and its profit margins are healthy-about 65 percent per sale. For 1996, with marketing efforts limited to word-of-mouth by satisfied customers and small volumes of direct mail sent to prospects, the Antioch, Illinois, company projects sales of $100,000.
Looking forward, The Glass Protectors plans to grow through two avenues. Number one, it's already doing steady business repairing glass, and the expansion potential is substantial. Number two, the company's plan is to market this system nationally as a business opportunity to entrepreneurs seeking to start their own enterprises.
There is a widespread disbelief among potential customers that the technology works as promised. "When prospects see it, they believe it," says Judith Kallos. "The process not only removes the scratches, it actually strengthens the glass. But many people just don't believe such a process can work." This customer skepticism has hampered sales, and Kallos wants to know how to break through this "seeing is believing" barrier. More broadly, she wants to know how to create a market for a new product or service.
We took this case to Tom Hopkins, perhaps the nation's most famous sales trainer and an expert in tough selling situations. Hopkins begins his makeover with a dose of reality: "It's foolish to go into selling a business opportunity before the retail sales foundation is proved," he says. "Now is not the time for her to do this, particularly not with the skepticism she already knows she faces. Prospects for buying an opportunity package-involving a large financial commitment-will only be that much more skeptical."
The bottom line: "Overcome customer skepticism, and make this business highly successful," Hopkins says. The route to doing this? "Since she continually encounters the 'I don't believe it' response from prospects, she needs to immediately create ways to overcome that objection. A big difference between professional salespeople and the rest [of the pack] is that the professionals take note of common objections, find ways to overcome them, and then bring up the objection before the buyers do. That way, the professional can neutralize the objection before it takes root in the buyer's mind.
"Kallos needs to find a way to communicate to prospects that ends their skepticism, and it has to be cost-effective." It's not cost-effective to pay in-person calls to every prospect, says Hopkins, who suggests a demo video as a low-cost way to let prospects see what Glass Protectors can do for them. An even lower cost technique? "Every sales brochure needs to feature testimonials from satisfied customers," advises Hopkins. "She should even say in print, 'Our happiest customers did not believe this process would work-until they saw the results!' "
Where to get testimonials? "From the customers with the most recognizable names," says Hopkins. If car dealers see the name of a big car dealer in their region, what the dealer says has credibility. Happy customers will be glad to let you use their testimonials.
Hopkins' core message is this: "Any entrepreneur who meets an objection on every sales call had better figure out now how to overcome it. You cannot succeed in sales until you take care of that."