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Sales Solutions
How not to conduct a sales call vol 6, issue #7
July, 2009

Last week I was sitting in the waiting area of a prospect's office when a young salesperson from one of the telephone companies entered. The office was a small one, with about five employees - the owner, two consultants, an admin, and the office manager. After introducing himself, the salesperson - whom the office manager had never met - launches immediately into his pitch. Almost simultaneously, I peek over the top of the magazine I'm reading to observe this unfolding spectacle. When he's finished, about 45 seconds later, the office manager politely informs him that they already have phone service, that they've been quite happy with it, and that she doesn't see any reason to make any changes.


Now, I'm secretly hoping our salesperson can demonstrate his selling skills by recovering from his first two major faux pas (marching in unannounced without an appointment, and launching into a pitch before asking a single question), and deal with this bit of sales resistance in an effective and professonal way. And in fact, he does, though he left out a crucial couple of steps and took one leap of faith with his response. The salesperson responded by pointing out to the office manager a capability that wasn't being provided by the incumbent provider (sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? Could be. But what if it was a capability the office had no current use for, nor forsaw any future use for, such as international calls?) As it turns out, our salesperson got lucky - the capability was one that they could benefit from, but which they hadn't ever thought to consider.


"You know," replied the office manager, "we just might need that capability. However, I'm a bit rushed right now - it's Friday and I have to get our payroll done. Why don't you just leave me some information, and I'll call you next week?" Our salesperson's response was, to my dismay, "I can review this with you right now and give you a quote - it'll just take a few minutes." To which our harried office manager replied, "Look, I just told you I don't have the time for this now...and besides, you just walked in here without an appointment, I don't know you...we don't do business like this.  I'll review what you leave and I'll call you next week if I think it makes sense to.


"OK", replies the salesman.  "I understand.  I'm sorry.  Say, I'll be back in this area on Monday...how about I stop in and we can review it together, when you have some time."


The salesperson feels he's scoring some points here, both by apologizing and by being assertive in proposing a next step.  So is there a problem here?  Well, the apology is a good move, but by plowing ahead with this offer fast on the heels of her admonition about his approach, he's evincing a lack of appreciation for  the effect his cumulative performance is having on the office manager's impression of him - that of an overly agressive, self-interested salesman.

And to top it all off, when the office mangers says, in so many words, "Thanks, but no thanks", our friend has the bad sense to say, "Well, [Company name] requires us to try to get an appointment.  As if the prospect gives a hoot what the salesperson's company wants!


What sales postulates jumped out at me as I was sitting there, doing everything I could to restrain myself from leaping up and giving him a free, impromptu training session?



  1. Unless the line of work you're in is a cold canvassing business (and I don't think that's true for any of my subscribers, but I could be wrong), don't just drop in on prospects - schedule an appointment. We know cold phone calls are often perceived as being intrusive; imagine how an in=person cold call is perceived.  Be professional - schedule an appointment.

  2. Treat every person - including and especially the office manager or admin - with respect. Not only is treating someone with disrespect in and of itself inappropriate and unacceptable, it's strategically foolish. If that person is the gatekeeper to the decision-maker, you're disrespect will have just ensured that gate will stay closed forever.

  3. Respect the prospect's wishes.  Don't answer with a reply that says, in effect, "I'm going to ignore what you said."  Always put your prospect's needs ahead of yours - always.

  4. Take your cues from your prospect.  If she's eager to engage with you, do so.  If she's interested but not eager, or just doesn't have the time, acknowledge that, and be willing to play by her rules for now until you've developed a level of trust that permits you to regain control.

  5. Ask questions first to determine if there are any unmet needs, and, if there are, what they are.

  6. Never, ever be - or appear to be - self-serving.  Your job is persuade a qualified prospect that your offering is the best option for him or her.  Do that, and you will, as a by-product, achieve your own goals.



Good Selling!
 


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