I’ve been selling B2B technology around the World for 30+ years and have had little opportunity in that time to be on the other side of the table during the buyer-seller interchange.
I’m at a Mike Bosworth Story Seekers Workshop this week observing my fellow salespeople and reflecting on my own experience as I write this and am prompted to spontaneously issue these Sales Call Instructions for prospective buyers. The rules have been informal and unwritten for a long time and it’s high time they were on paper and available for all buyers to read and digest.
I want to apologize right now to all of the people I have offended, interrupted, pressured or pissed-off during the first 30+ year period of my selling career and after you have read the rules, I’m confident you’ll agree that it won’t happen again.
A special apology goes out to a marketing director at Western Digital whom I called in 2003. How rude not to appreciate the subtlety of the Negative Reverse Sell, a Transactional Analysis technique I had recently learned in a Sandler Selling Workshop. You may recall that after I used the negative-reverse, you declined the opportunity to engage in conversation following my cold-call interruption. I don’t think I had the technique dialed-in quite right because you suggested that while it was only February, I had already won the award for the biggest “A-hole” of the year.
This blog post is a set of behavioral rules for B2B technology prospects and customers to follow so as to maximize the value and the time of the hard working, honest and ethical salesperson sitting across the desk or on the other end of the phone.
It will also serve to minimize the inconvenience and continuing lost profits your company is making without our solutions.
Next week I will post instructions on how to mesh your buying process with our sales cycle and the things you need to say to salespeople so that we can accurately complete our CRM reports, keep our sales managers at bay and our forecasts looking rosy.
- When a salesperson calls you on the phone, you will stop what you are doing, pick up the phone and smile when you say, “Hello, this is (Your Name), how are you?”
- You will be amused with the variety blurting-out, fumbling, 90 second introductions without breathing, awkward silences and obvious lack of preparation, professionalism and nervousness of the salesperson. After they have finished their intro, you will ask, “how can I help you”?
- You will refrain from hanging up, giving excuses about being in a meeting, or chastising your administrator who let this call slip through.
- If the salesperson is planning a trip to your location in the near future, you will consider it a stroke of luck and make space on your calendar to accommodate an in-person call.
- You will hear the salesperson out and never ask them to send more information in an email or to call back at a more convenient time for them, because what they have to say could save you and your company serious money…. even get you promoted!
- You will answer all questions the salesperson asks to the best of your ability, regardless of their nature, how many they ask or the irrelevance to your role and business.
- You will disclose any pain or discomfort in your physical condition, even a minor back-ache, because salespeople ar looking for pain and may have something in their bag that can help.
- You will inquire about the features of their products and be curious about who else is using them and the benefits they are getting and welcome any opportunity to see the product in action in a live demo.
- You will smile knowingly as the sales rep plugs in the Lap-top, fumbles with the LCD technology, or these days, more coolly passes you the iPad and brings up the PowerPoint presentation or video clip. Most importantly, during the presentation you will refrain from playing with your smart-phone and stay focused on the bullets and message, because there is infinite wisdom, somewhere in the presentation.
- You will wait until the salesperson has emptied your bucket of potential objections and enjoy the festival of the salesperson digging holes for themselves while trying to counter them.
- You will never promise to get back to the salesperson unless you truly mean it.
- You will nod and promise not to smirk when the salesperson asks any question beginning with ” if we could show you a way….”
- You will be grateful when the salesperson interrupts you before you have finished your sentence (while you are discussing the issues that are important to you) and then tells you what you need to do (use their product), because the sooner you find out, the better.
- You promise to engage any salesperson with an earnest and professorial look on their face; possibly wearing a chalk dusted sports coat with leather elbow pads, carrying a pipe, wearing a sword on their hip or carrying a lance, or even wearing a measuring tape and carrying and scissors. They are going to challenge your assumptions and to teach you about the hidden jewels in your business that only they can help you discover.
- This is the biggie – never lie to a salesperson- they can tell!
If you are a sales professional or manager and find this slightly amusing, you are invited to add to it. (Not you Brian.)
If you are a salesperson or sales leader and you recognize that perhaps you or your team need to evolve your craft, or you believe that there might be something more you can learn, you are invited to find out more.
If you found this amusing or have committed any of the sins above, or know someone who needs to read the rules, please pass it on.