I work with sales teams. I also get sold TO. A lot. As a marketing manager, I field calls, emails, and even the occasional piece of snail mail asking for a slice of my precious marketing budget. Here’s the thing, yes, I have needs that a whole bunch of vendors/companies/superheros can theoretically help me with. In fact, I WANT those needs met, and I need them met. That’s why they are called needs. It’s part of my job to make sure that these things get taken care of. In other words, I am spending money. Still, it is surprising, and even annoying, how often I am on the receiving end of poor salesmanship. We all have a job to do here, and it can work out well for both of us. Allow me to help you help me. Here are a few tips on how to seal the deal with me:
How to Sell to Alissa Jean, An On-going List
1. Know what my company does/sells. Sales 101 right here, but you’d be shocked at the amount of inquiries I get that demonstrate zero homework. Not even a cursory Google and website glance. (For example, I currently work for CITEL, a company that provides surge protection solutions. We are not the only company called CITEL. Figure out which one we are before you call me, please.)
2. Don’t waste my time asking me questions you should already know. This is Sales 102, the follow up part of your homework. I understand that you’re supposed to ask a lead/me questions and want a lead/me to talk so that you can provide a customized solution. You know what’s even better? Doing your job so I don’t have to for you. If you are contacting me by phone or email, don’t ask me what we sell. Just don’t. I am pretty sure that the only time that this question is okay, is if you are meeting me in person in a non-planned encounter, such as a networking event or tradeshow. If this is a scheduled conversation, save us both some time and knock out the easy questions on your own, beforehand. There ARE such things as good questions though, so please….
3. Don’t act like my all-knowing, god-given savior, and ask good questions. Yes, you may very well hold the keys to just the solution that I have been searching for. You’ve done at least 10 minutes of homework and are confident that this is the right purchase for me. However, you may not know what our market focus is for this quarter, if purchasing decisions have already been made for an upcoming event, or if I have something else in my brain that is super important. Once the basics are nailed down, make SURE you take the time to ask me relevant and valuable questions. (More on this in a future blog.)
4. Don’t call me so many times that the mention of your name from the receptionist becomes enough to give me a momentary headache. I get it, you need to follow up, you want to stay top of mind, you’re trying to close a sale, you have deadlines, blah blah blah. But please, do us both a favor and don’t be annoying! Find that perfect balance of following up but not following up too much. It’ll probably be different for different customers and different industries, so take some time to figure it out. That’s part of what makes you a good salesperson.
5. Don’t be late. If I agree to schedule a call with you, even more so, an in person meeting, BE. ON. TIME. If you won’t be, for some reason, let me know. If you don’t respect my time, how do I know you’ll respect things like lead times or product quality? Come on… this is such a DUH.
6. Get my name right. I know, I know, Alissa is one of the hardest names that you will come across in America. It’s hard to pronounce, spell, and remember. Oh wait, no, it’s not! Especially the spelling part. When it’s in my email signature. And my email address. Seriously? Take 2 seconds…
7. Don’t send me samples and then ask for them back, unless that was the initial understanding. This happened in real life, and left me a bit flabbergasted. I suppose it really comes back to setting expectations. People love samples and free stuff, and, as a society, I’d say we’re pretty used to getting this stuff from salespeople on the regular. If something is a loaner, however, that’s totally fine! As long as that is understood from the get-go. Nothing says tacky like “Thanks for your order, please send my samples back.” That statement is basically exactly the same as: “Thanks for going to prom with me, can I have the corsage back now? I need to freeze it for my next date.”
8. Don’t guilt trip me for all the work you put into a quote. That’s your job. Your job includes work. I don’t feel bad for you or more inclined to make a purchase, I just think you’re a whiner. Some industries involve really elaborate quotes, sure. If that’s the case, it again comes down to expectations. If this quote involves extensive designer hours, or other resources, there might not be a problem with charging for that quote, as long as I know about it upfront. However, if your company has determined that a quote fee is not a necessary cost to pass on to a potential lead, then you can’t complain about it to me.
9. Focus on the value-added part of your sales pitch. Let’s face it, there are a lot of companies that sell a lot of the same stuff. What is it about you and your product/service that makes you the best option? In other words, what value are you adding that makes you any different than the last three guys who just called? Not only to my purchasing decisions have a specific purpose to fulfill, the choices also reflect back on me, and my team. We all want to look awesome! Will your product do that? Figure out what I am looking for to take this project to the next level, and see if there are any synergies there!
These are my top tips for now. I’m thinking about keeping an ongoing list somewhere in my office to jot down memorable experiences, good and bad, as they happen. How about you, friends? Have you been victim to some awful salesmanship? How about really awesome work? What makes you want to work with a sales rep?