Miserable winter weather recently had me juggling my schedule, allowing me to spend the day in my office. It turned into one of those awesome days of zipping through email, checking items off a to-do list, and generally feeling fabulously efficient. So when my phone rang, I didn’t hesitate to answer and share my good mood with the incoming caller. But, right from their first question, the caller created a conversation that matched the chilly outdoors.
What did the caller ask, and what lesson does it provide for all of us?
The call came from a young (I’m pretty sure) salesperson at 411.ca and his first question, after asking after my health, of course, was … “Mary Jane, I’m just calling about The Phone Lady – is that business still going for you?”
Yup, selling like it’s 1989, when the only way to research a company was through print directories at the library, or by diligently reading and highlighting newspapers, magazines and journals. In those days we often picked up the phone with very little knowledge. To do so today is irresponsible and insulting.
A sales call like this tells us a lot about the company and its management:
- They have chosen to stay uninformed about how to sell and how to teach others this skill in today’s market;
- They are focused only on making money, not on building relationships;
- They are not investing in or building relationships with their sales staff. Without strong communication and research skills their salespeople would have limited success and there would be high turnover; and
- They are wasting their own, and everyone’s, time and money.
With all this information provided in the first 30 seconds of the call, there is no chance I would ever become a customer. And the same would be true for thousands of other prospects.
While it’s easy to be annoyed with the salesperson, it really isn’t his fault. It was obvious that he was following a type of script. I actually stayed on this call for 4 minutes (and no, it didn’t get any better) listening to how he dealt with my responses. He had been trained to ignore me and keep pushing the product, keep asking for the sale. In the end, he didn’t even say goodbye, clearly displaying discouragement and frustration.
Companies that are proud of their service or product make sure their salespeople have the necessary skills to create great conversations with prospects and customers. If you receive a call from an unprepared and uninterested salesperson, know that the odds are the company they represent is also unprepared and uninterested.
P.S. Here’s another analysis of a previous sales call from this company. They are certainly providing me with interesting blog posts!