Serious selling mistakes happen when you, the seller, cross the customer’s personal line in the sand. Far too many of your “qualified” leads are cold calls with dead ends. You know this. So does the person on the other end of the phone.
As professional sellers, think twice before you make the following serious selling mistake.
Several weeks ago, I was on the receiving end of an inside sales call that went seriously South. Here’s what happened, word for word. I’ve eliminated the name of the company to protect the innocent. However, I can tell you right now that I have absolutely no interest in doing business with them or referring business to them.
Caller: Hello? Hello? [The voice sounds robotic.]
BTH: Hi. [I didn’t offer my name because I though I was talking to a robot.]
Caller: Hello, Babette? [The voice still sounds robotic.]
BTH: And who are you? Is this a robot?
Caller: Are you Babette Ten Haken?
BTH: Yes, and, for the third time, who are you?
Caller: I’m So-and-So from Company X. Several weeks ago you attended a webinar [no reference given to which webinar] sponsored by our Company. I’m calling to introduce our Company to you and find out more about your interest.
BTH: I’m not interested in your Company. I only registered for a webinar. How did I end up on your list of “qualified” leads?
Caller: You are a sales and marketing professional, aren’t you?
BTH: Yes. [I didn’t tell him I’m a management consultant and business coach because I could tell where this was going and, against my better judgment, decided to stay on the phone.]
Caller: Well, if you are a sales and marketing professional you are qualified to receive this call from me.
BTH: A person who signs up for your webinar isn’t the same thing as a qualified lead. Hasn’t your Fearless Leader told you the difference?
Caller: It says here that you are a sales and marketing professional. That means you are qualified to receive this call. I’d like to tell you about our products and price structure.
BTH: I don’t have time. And I’m not interested enough to ask you to send information. Do you know who I am and what I actually do?
Caller: Well, why don’t you just tell me? [His tone voice changes and becomes snarky.]
BTH: Look, no harm, no foul. I know sellers like you receive lists like this full of unsuspecting people like me who have registered for online events or downloaded white papers. So you call and try to schedule a demo or free trial.
Caller: You are on my list. You are qualified. [His tone of voice becomes even more sarcastic.]
BTH: OK. I think we’ve taken this conversation far enough. By the way, I’m a business blogger. Let’s just call it a day. You’ve already said enough. No need to say anything more.
Caller: Hey, this conversation is hilarious. I’m laughing at the other end of the phone. Really. Laughing.
BTH: I’m so happy you found this conversation amusing. [I promptly hung up.]
Now, I am quite certain that this snide young man with the Caller ID from Mountain View CA got off the phone with me and immediately started bragging to his team that he “really showed me.”
However, as you read this scenario, at what point did you start to cringe? It’s riddled with serious selling mistakes, isn’t it?
I know sales people have quotas to make. I don’t know how many other people he called that day who gave him a tough time. However, pretty early on in the conversation, he had ample opportunity to apologize for inconveniencing me and terminate the phone call.
He didn’t. His choice to pursue our conversation in the most unprofessional manner has serious ramifications for his company brand, for starters.
He made a serious selling mistake. I’m sure I wasn’t the first person on the receiving end of his complete lack of professionalism.
If you are having a bad day dialing, take a break. If you have a bad attitude, like this caller did, think about doing something else as your day job.
Do not, under any circumstances, make this type of serious selling mistake.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a professional development coach and management consultant. Her Workshops result in Playbooks for startups and small to mid-size companies who want to grow, expand and sustain their business, but are wrestling with unpredictable revenue streams. Then she brings these Playbooks to life in their organizations. Her Playbook on leadership, business development and collaboration strategies, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.