Friday, March 27, 2009

How Not to Sell

Part of my duties as a secret agent, um, er, I mean, Senior Marketing to manage Inside Sales. Since we are a B2B (business-to-business) market, we are a higher caliber than the typical telemarketer, but the "smiling and dialing" aspect of the job remains. Between calls and e-mails, we wear down the prospects in hopes they will buy from us. The art of the sale is the persistence and method we go about to do it. Once there is engagement, closing becomes much easier.

I've also been in sales before so I understand the nuances around being prepared and briefed when going after a customer. As a manager, I drill that into the squad that we never make a contact without first doing our research on the company so we walk into the situation looking like a rock star. Having this intel on my side, I've become the last person you want to call if you are selling me something.

Last week I was given a Web site to check out that provides a service to aid our Outside Sales team. (I also provide Marketing support for the entire Sales team) The site was rather clunky (I'm a Web site snob since I've worked in technology for years) and I had a hard time figuring out how to get information. I decided to sign up for a webinar on their service and start there. Within a few hours I received an e-mail from a representative indicating he was glad I was referred to them and to check out the attachment for their other clients. Huh? First, I never indicated I was referred to them. Second, there was no attachment. I immediately replied and inquired about the attachment.

Within minutes of sending the e-mail, I get a phone call. It's Art, the guy who replied to my e-mail. The conversation went something like this....

Art: "Hi Rose, I got your reply and wanted to see if you'd like to view a demo of our service."
Rose: "Um, well, I signed up for a webinar to check you out first. My e-mail really was to let you know I didn't get the attachment."
Art: "Oh those webinars aren't for prospects. (Ok, then why is it on your site??) And, that was old e-mail copy...we don't send that list anymore." (Good proofreading)
Rose: "Hmm, ok, well, your Web site is rather confusing to figure out...not to mention it's a bit "1992" if I can be so bold."
Art: "HaHa (obligatory laugh), well some folks think it's more 1994. (Bad joke, Art, keep your day job). So, can we go through that demo now?"
Rose: "Well, first, Art, what do you know about my company? you know what we do?"
Art: "Your e-mail signature was very informative." (What?!?! My title, phone, e-mail and company Web site address gave you all the info needed? Obviously he had no clue what we did) Are you ready to take a look at a demo?"
Rose: "Art, I'm about ten minutes from heading into a meeting. And, I'd like to schedule a specific time so my VP of Sales can sit in on the demo too. Can you e-mail me times that are good and we'll set something up?" (Even with my trying attitude, I do provide grace...he needs a sale...probably more than most)
Art: "Sure thing"

Art immediately began following my company on Twitter (that was included in my oh-so-informative e-mail signature) and sent me an e-mail. I responded with the dates we were free and asked for a specific time. No response.

This Wednesday, good ole Art called back....
Art: "Hi Rose. Is this a good time for a demo?"
Rose: "Um, I was waiting for your reply to confirm a time. Plus, I need to loop my VP of Sales in on the demo and he is at another location."
Art: "Hmm, well I never got your e-mail, or if I did, I deleted it. Can you send me an e-mail reminder?" (Now I'm his personal assistant)
Rose: "Do you still have my e-mail in your database? Just send me an e-mail and I'll reply."
Art: "Ok, will do."

He did. I replied. No response. I'm guessing next Wednesday I'll get another call. Sigh. I'm amazed he sells anything. I really am a very sweet person...just sometimes my alter ego, Ruth, comes out when I encounter completely clueless people. Art, I'm trying to buy from you... make it easy, man.


Amy said...

You're hysterical. :) I could just hear your voice when I read this.

Johanna said...

You left out the part where he called our VP by the wrong name -- that was another funny bit. Poor Art is clueless.

Lora said...

Thanks for the laugh. I needed that.

Matt said...

It's so much fun to hear you take these sales guys on :)