Our #1 Responsibility as Entrepreneurs & Salespeople

Whenever I work with entrepreneurs I ask them: “What is your first and most important responsibility?” The popular answer is “make money”, and of course this is vital. But at the top of the priority list is … letting your target market know you exist. The emphasis is on target market because when we spend time connecting with people who will never be our customers … we can create some serious damage. Here’s an example from my long-time colleague and friend, Linda Daley of Daley Progress.

What was Linda’s experience in a recent phone call? And how did she react?

Recently I received a phone call that went like this: “Hello, I’m just calling to speak to the person who makes decisions about your exterior signage.”

Having learned from The Phone Lady that using the word “just” is a no-no because it diminishes our message, it always jumps out at me when someone uses it on the phone. My first thought was, “Oh, too bad,” and I felt pity – and yes, a little scorn – for the caller.

Equally sad is that I shouldn’t have even been on the calling list and received that phone call. I work from home and that’s easy to find out with a little online investigation. Not only that, but I’m known to the company owners. With a little care, I should not have made it onto the calling list.

Then, only a few days later, I received an email from the same company that started like this:

Some days it’s better to stay in bed. Would you trust your signage to a company with such disregard for their own marketing?

And again, I should not have received this email as I had previously unsubscribed. After a few years of not hearing from this company at all, suddenly I became part of a new campaign. And my experience has not been good. What they’ve ended up sharing with me is:

  • an untrained or inexperienced salesperson
  • poor vetting of their prospect list
  • poor management of email contacts (leading to CASL violations)
  • lack of care with their own marketing

This combination of events has made that company stand out in my mind as one I would never recommend. And I’ll remember it for a long time as I share this story with other small business owners as an example of what not to do.







4 thoughts on “Our #1 Responsibility as Entrepreneurs & Salespeople”

  1. Thank you for this blog post, Mary Jane . I completely agree with you that the phone call and subsequent message Linda received were well “off target” for her needs. That said, would you agree that Linda knows a number of ideal prospective clients for a signage company with the RIGHT message?

    I believe that it’s not WHAT you say or WHO you say it to, rather HOW you say it.

    I believe you’ll never go wrong with telling anyone who will listen what you do. You will always go wrong if you say it wrong.

    The answer isn’t that they targeted poorly. The answer is that they presented it in a way that didn’t work for Linda.

    Imagine what a cool post this would have been if they had made Linda’s heart SING!

    • Thanks for this comment, Ryan. And great to hear from you. I certainly agree that Linda knows some ideal clients for a signage company and that there’s a possibility (I think it’s slim) that if she had received something spectacular from the company she might have spread the word. In fact, because she is passionate about marketing, she might even write a blog post about a fabulous campaign. But I also believe that approaching people outside your target market can have a negative impact on a company, regardless of how perfect their message. Your post makes me think there’s a “debate” here. I really do think you can go wrong telling “anyone” about what you do. I appreciate that you feel differently. Would you like to write a blog post about it? Let me know.

  2. I love delightful sales and marketing initiatives, and would rather write about those. But sometimes the best lessons are more obvious when we see what goes wrong… or can go wrong. I do think it’s important to let our close contacts and fans know what’s going on with our business – so they can be referrers – but I am neither in this case. And we wouldn’t be having this debate if these points of interaction had been delightful. (And if this had been a close contact, I would have immediately reached out privately and shared my negative experience.)

    • So true, Linda. I, perhaps obviously, really notice both delightful and ineffective sales and marketing experiences. It is often easier to take the lessons from the moments that don’t work. Regardless, it is important to be “in the moment” and aware of how we are being approached and treated by others.


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