You might not think a poorly executed phone call from a sales person could lead to a discussion on business skills and the meaning of life, but it happens here at Technifold USA. Strange behavior from one caller had us asking why some sales people are afraid to admit they’re sales people.
Gina, our very own sales professional, was on the phone the other day with someone who was obviously representing a company. Here’s how the conversation went:
Caller [In a disgusted, how-could-you-be-so-stupid voice]: Absolutely not!! I simply want to introduce him to our company.
Gina: Ohhh…so you just want to go to the movies with him? Or maybe have an ice cream?
Actually Gina showed remarkable restraint and did NOT say that last line out loud. I would have said it, but that’s why they don’t let me answer the phones.
Now, we actually like salespeople. We treat them with respect because we have learned a lot of profitable things over the years from many dedicated, professional salespeople. They improve our lives. However, we separate incoming phone calls into two camps. In camp one are customers or prospects that have orders or questions for us about the products we sell. These are the first priority.
In camp two are vendors and potential vendors. If the caller is in this camp, we ask them to email and/or mail us with appropriate information. Then if we are interested we will contact them at our convenience and schedule a time to talk, when it doesn’t interfere with phone calls from customers.
Since several phone calls always seem to come simultaneously, it makes sense to quickly get through this initial triage process, sorting the sales people from everyone else. So when we ask if you want to sell us something, it’s a plain-speaking way of getting right to the heart of the matter, because there is probably another call or two on the other lines.
If our caller had admitted that she was selling, if she actually owned what she did and was proud of it, she would have made some headway. Instead she and her company were banished forever.
Sales is a noble profession. It’s also a way of life and something that each of us does all day, every day. An employee by their very nature is always involved indirectly in sales. We talk about that here in a related article. By trying to do a good job, an employee is selling his or her effectiveness to the employer.
In going to lunch with co-workers someone will try to sell you on where to go that day or what to eat. In our families we try to persuade children to clean their rooms, brush their teeth, or get home at a certain hour. A bindery supervisor will persuade equipment operators to do jobs in a new way or on different machines. Every small act of persuasion is an act of, dare I say it, sales.
Yet a small minority of sales people gives the phrase its dirty connotation when they do two things:
1) They don’t truly value what they have to offer. Good products or services exist to solve problems and help people. If you have a great product or service, then you’re actually doing a dis-service to people who could use it when you don’t let them know about it.
Not every product is a fit for every person. But a good salesperson is involved in finding those who are a good match. Here at Technifold USA we talk about “bleeding Technifold blue.” We have an obligation to let those in the printing industry know how we might be able to help improve their post-press operations. We never cold call or harass anyone. But when they come to us we are excited to share the possible solutions, whether it results in a sale or not. It’s not a dirty job.
In the case of our caller, the only thing she seemed to value was the act of getting an appointment, no matter the cost. I still have no idea how her company might have been able to help me.
2) They don’t respect the prospective customer’s privacy, humanity, and time. Sadly, this is what has made “sales people” a dirty word over the years.
In the case of our caller, she started the call with deception. The email she referenced was a brief, spammy one I received that closed with “If you are the appropriate person to speak with, what does your calendar look like? If not, who do I talk to?” By using my name with Gina, she implied that I committed to speak with her and that I had dropped the ball. She was laying a guilt trip on Gina for something that never happened.
Then she blatantly lied about selling something. Of course the whole purpose of “an introduction” to her company is to sell their service. Duh. To make matters worse, her disdainful tone of voice indicated exactly what she thought about Gina’s handling of her call.
She was presumptuous. She never heard me say that I was interested in anything she had to offer (not that I knew what that was). So why would I be looking at my calendar? She missed an important step.
Lastly she was too lazy to get to know her people before calling. Her tone with Gina would likely have been different had she known that Gina is Vice President at Technifold USA and not just a gatekeeper. She obviously didn’t know I was an owner. In any event, no one should ever be spoken to in a disrespectful manner no matter what their job at the company. It’s simply rude.
Ironically, the caller’s job title in the email was “Conversation Starter.” How’d she do?
Let’s see, she tried to start a business relationship with deception, trickery, lying, and manipulation. This either reflects what is in her heart or in her company’s heart. Thus she slammed the door shut forever on having any kind of conversation let alone a business relationship. Can you imagine what the experience with them is like after they get some money?
Most of you reading are in the printing business and some are professional printing sales people. I’m sure that the service and products you provide are valued by your customers. You deliver something you really believe in, whether on the front lines as a sales person or behind the scenes in a support role. And hopefully these relationships with your customers will last a lifetime.
If you’re in a place where you can’t believe in what you’re offering, you should think about moving to a place where you can believe. Be in a place where honesty and plain speaking are accepted. As former IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson, Sr. said, “To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.”