I have to write this today. I had a very bad sales experience this week and someone in my network told me another one yesterday. I hope you are not doing these behaviors below, but if you are, unfortunately they will undermine your success! And they are so easy to correct.
- While actually making glass beads with an active torch/flame, an insurance salesman walked into my open door studio (I need the ventilation), stood behind my back and told me he insures a business in my business complex, and began TELLING me about the policies he can provide for me. Without turning to him I asked him if he was actually trying to sell me something while I was making glass beads????!!! He said YES (he obviously didn’t catch my sarcasm) and would I like to stop and see some of his information. I emphatically, but politely, told him NO. I could tell he was surprised I did that…but…REALLY????
There are TWO key things he did wrong…first – interrupting me while I was working without even asking permission “is this a good time”. Second – jumping in to immediately TELL me what he had to offer without asking a single question about my current insurance situation. I can’t imagine he does very well with this approach!
- A network colleague told me about an annoying sales situation she often encounters. She is Marketing Director at a very small business. She uses services sometimes from many much larger businesses….typically just one service of that business. Unfortunately, the sales folks at these big businesses waste her time during their appointment, where they are scheduled to present the one thing she wants/needs, by arriving with a lengthy prepared presentation to TELL her about all their other services, even though she is clear that she only wants to hear about, and has budget for, the one service. Even when she reminds them she only wants to hear about…what she wants to hear about…they persist in TELLING her about the other services for a 30 minute presentation. She has to “threaten” that she will leave if they don’t move on to what she wants/needs to discuss.
Are you in a business with many services you COULD sell to a customer/prospect? If so, before presenting any of your other services, it’s critical you probe for needs/wants in those areas before you DUMP on your poor prospect or customer. It’s a waste of their time and your time if you wander into a discussion/presentation of services that have not yet been identified as a need. Don’t fall into the trap of doing the “shot gun” approach hoping one bullet will stick! More than likely, you’ll annoy your prospect/customer and you might lose the business! Or have them talk negatively about you to people in their network!
- We had some work done at the house and requested bids for the service. Contractor 1, very nice guy came to visit and measure and then sent in a bid. It was a bit higher than we were hoping so we emailed back and asked if a few things could be taken off the project to see if the cost might be more in our budget. We never received any reply…not an adjusted bid or a communication that the things were critical to keep in. Nothing! Contractor 2 came out and measured everything, another nice guy. NEVER heard from him ever again. No bid at all. Contractor 3 got the bid…very responsive in the bidding process and the installation.
Have you dropped the ball on a proposal/bid/meeting follow-up? You’ve spent time on it so it’s important to maintain the momentum. There is no excuse. Even if suddenly you get busy (that’s a good problem) and don’t need that other prospect/project…why would you abandon someone who could be a good customer one day…or a referral source?
- Momentum is critical in sales. You’ve all heard that it sometimes takes 7-11 “touches”… and maybe even more to get a Sale. So many times I see sales people stop at 2-3 touches. They haven’t even begun to build the interest and loyalty with that prospect. Networking is a “touch” but needs to be followed with email touches and phone call touches. These TIPS I send out are touches. Just a way for me to stay in front of prospects and customers at least 6 times during the year…or more if I find a sales or customer service issue to write about! Yet, I hardly ever get TIPS from people in my network with products or services that I might use. I get sales COMMERCIALS – many, many, many emails every morning trying to sell me something! But rarely information that I might save in a file or reference another time because it’s a topic that is important or useful to me. Many recipients of my TIPS write that they have used them for employee training…and that is so wonderful to hear!
Database and email marketing are critical tools for a sales person to stay on top of the variety of touches you need to make – phone calls, emails, meetings, etc. I meet so many sales people who don’t keep track of prospects with any form of tracking and who don’t email USEFUL information as a way of building trust and interest.
“They” make it so easy now for sales people nowadays… I’ve even switched from a database software application to one on the Cloud!!! I was able to email 1500 prospects and customers last month while I was sailing up the Danube. How easy is THAT?! Any company or individual sales person committed to building business should be using the tools to help maintain MOMENTUM with prospects and customers!
- One-on-one meetings are meant to allow both parties an opportunity to get to know each other better – both professionally and personally. However, sometimes the personal can monopolize the dialogue and get too personal – so be aware if you are doing it and keep the information “top line”/professional – and not infringing on the time for the business information that needs to be exchanged. AND don’t monopolize the professional discussion either. Have you ever been in a one-on-one meeting and the other person went on and on and on about THEIR business and THEIR products…and you barely had time to discuss your business before the time (1 hour coffee) was up? Or worse, have you done it to the poor participant in your one-on-one? And please don’t SELL during your one-on-one. I know it’s a fine line between informing and selling…keep it informative. Only discuss prices if the person asks you.
A good technique is to have your watch set to 30 minutes…tell them to go first…and at 30 minutes thank them and lead into YOUR presentation. And ask questions about their product/service to help the person stay on topic.
I have to end with a good story. I inquired about a product several months ago. The sales person was very prompt in providing information I needed. I eventually told her that I couldn’t order at that time but thanked her for the information. THIS week I received a follow-up email from her asking if I still was thinking about the item! Good job keeping me in her follow-up…not excessively…but certainly on her radar. She obviously has a good database and a process for her “touches.” I emailed back “not right now but maybe late fall”…and she emailed back she would follow-up then. I’m sure she will. And if I have budget and still want that item, you know I will go with her!
PRACTICE GOOD, POSITIVE SALES BEHAVIORS!