I can’t help it. I recently read some bad sales advice, and I gotta say something. I’ll try to keep it positive, but my tongue is already bleeding from biting it.
The title of the article was: “When sales calls stall.”
Every salesperson has experienced that barrier in one form or another, so I wondered what this “expert” had to say.
Note well: I try not to read current sales material because I don’t want to copy, or be accused of copying, someone else’s work or ideas.
It started with the usual sales dialog: You have a meeting with a prospective customer; they’re hot, hot, hot for your product or service; they ask for a proposal, you quickly oblige, and a week later, you call the hot customer, and they have evaporated — won’t return your calls or emails.
What to do?
Get ready — here comes this guy’s (name withheld) expert advice:
He recommends every manipulative “sales technique” from implying urgency (buy today or the deal goes away) to getting creative (whatever that means; no explanation or examples given), to using intrigue to connect (no explanation or examples given).
He advises: Be prepared like a boy scout, appeal to a higher authority, assume all is well and they are just busy, use the admin as an ally, and a bunch of sales talk mumbo jumbo that any seasoned executive or their assistant would smell like a skunk that hasn’t bathed.
This is why this type of approach to a reluctant or otherwise busy buyer will never work:
First: The prospect is not returning your calls for a reason. Wouldn’t it be important to find out why? If you could discover that, it would help your next 1,000 sales calls.
Second: Why did you ever offer a proposal without making a firm face-to-face follow-up sales appointment in the first place? This is one of the most powerful — yet mostly overlooked — elements of the sales cycle.
Third: Stop trying to sell. Stop trying to be cute. Stop trying to be manipulative.
Fourth: For goodness sake stop trying to butter up the admin or executive assistant. These people are smarter than your lingo and loyal to their employers, not you.
Fifth: The salesperson (not you, of course) did a lousy job in the presentation, left some holes, never discovered the prospect’s real motive to purchase, was subjected (relegated) to a proposal/bidding process, never followed relationship-based strategies, was more hungry for the sale and the commission than uncovering what would build a relationship.
You didn’t connect; you didn’t engage. Why are you blaming the prospect for not calling you? Why don’t you take responsibility for doing a poor job and taking a lesson? Not just a sales lesson, a relationship lesson.
Point five caution: Maybe their daddy decides, and you’ve never met daddy, let alone know who he is. Maybe someone else higher up the ladder told your prospect “No,” and your prospect is embarrassed, or doesn’t care, to tell you.
Sales reality check: In sales, you have one chance — one chance to engage, one chance to build rapport, one chance to connect, one chance to be believable, one chance to be trustworthy and one chance to meet with the real decision-maker.
You have one chance to differentiate yourself, one chance to prove your value and one chance to ask for (or better, confirm) the sale.
Bad news: If you miss your chance or blow your chance, recovery chances are slim. OK, none.
Not being able to reconnect with a prospect is not a problem, it’s a symptom. And it’s a report card on how well you’re doing. Or not doing. How well the relationship is going. Or not going.
Good news: Lost sales and sales gone wrong are the best places to learn.
Better news: If you make a firm commitment to meet a few days later — not by phone, to meet face-to-face — you have a better chance of discovering the truth.
Best news: Once you get the truth, you have a chance at a sale. Or better stated, you will have created the atmosphere where someone wants to buy from you.
Sales techniques are increasingly becoming passé. So are the people who stress using them rather than emphasizing the relationship- and value-based side.
I grew up selling, and I grew out of it.
If you have lost a connection, or if a hot prospect evaporates or refuses to call you back or respond to you, the worst thing you can do is try a sales technique. Why don’t you try something new? Try being honest. No, not just with the customer, with yourself.
I promise that a harsh self-discovery lesson may not help you reconnect with the customer you lost, but it’s connection insurance for the next thousand. Take a chance. It’s the best one you’ve got.
Editor’s note: Jeffrey Gitomer is on sabbatical. This column originally appeared in the May 2, 2016, Business Journal.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 13 books. His real-world ideas and content are also available as online courses at gitomerlearningacademy.com. For information about training and seminars, visit gitomer.com or email Jeffrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.