There are so few opportunities for redemption in the cold, hard world of B2B selling. Deals are big, cycles are long, memories are longer. But just as tennis offers a second serve, sales offers the get-out-of-suckiness-free card in the form of the follow-up .

Last week we met some lazy, ill-equipped and dangerously eager sales people bungling the basics of a first meeting. Let’s see how they did on the second serve:

Dinner Party Rules Apply:Crawling hazard
Your mother taught you that a thank you note for a dinner party had better be hitting your hosts’ hall table within 24 hours or whenever the food poisoning symptoms subside, whichever comes first. If this is news to you, it could explain why don’t get out much. The same is true in sales. You need to have that follow-up email screeching across the ether within one business day. There are three reasons for this. First, certain under-medicated middle-aged marketers have trouble remembering their children’s names; recalling a meeting that’s more than three days in the past is asking way too much. Second, it’s an appropriate expression of eagerness, but eagerness grows stale faster than a motivational poster, so better fire that thing along. Third, see above. It’s polite. You chewed up 30 minutes or more of someone’s time. That is a thing to which you are not otherwise entitled and therefore it deserves a big, fat thank you. Even if you screwed it up.

And It Was Going So Well…
I’m not sure why anyone would follow a terrible meeting with a terrible email, but this one was turning into a fun train wreck so I poured a coffee and watched. You may remember our friends who attempted to sell video services without any video, all the while demonstrating a complete ignorance about my company. Well this same crack team, which should have been filling my email with links to their riveting work, chose as well to give me this: “We felt after our meeting that we didn’t have enough factual information on why you should be utilizing video for your internal and external communications.” Is this my date sneaking out the back door before dessert? Well, good riddance. I say.

Oh, wait, there’s more: ” attached is a brief you can send if you require our services”. So you’ve left me at the table but I’m on the hook to get your car back from the valet? Fine. What’s this? A voice mail from you? Whatever can you want? Excuse me? Was that you asking if I have any projects you can quote on? I’m going with no.

My friend with the Powerpoint about how great it is to use iPads for selling sent me a note. He’s really happy we could have that chat and he could learn more about our company: like all the stuff he couldn’t be bothered to look up on Google. Well he can’t wait to participate in my next RFP, by which he must mean the agency review I’m not going to invite him to. Where is the Powerpoint he was updating? Where is all the relevant B2B work that they’ve allegedly stacked up? Must be holding up the trophy case

When You Scrape it off Your Boot, It’s a Good Idea Not to Step in it Again:
I spent some of last Friday in yet another pitch by some agency which had been circling the building for years. You’d think with all that time staring at our logo, they’d have been curious about what kind of work we do. Pretty sure if they had done that Google thing, they wouldn’t have spent 45 minutes showing me their campaigns for cars, condos, toe nail fungus clinics, transmission shops and a travel industry association’s dog. It didn’t end well. I used my ten minutes at the end to ask if they had any B2B experience. Oh, tons, it seems. Binders full. What about digital work? Oh, tons of that too. Facebook is apparently a great way to sell condos. “How is Vine being used by your client base?” I ask, hoping for something that doesn’t involve a model suite. Long silence. Exchanged glances. “What’s Vine” they say in unison.

Monday morning, here comes the do-over: lovely note, perfectly timed. They even attached a PDF. Must be all that B2B work they’ve done. Well, you can guess what it was. Cars, condos and toe nails.

Fault.

Loss of Service.

Sigh.