This is a guest blog post written by Andrea Hewett, Social Media Business Director
for Holt Marketing and Management Services, Inc.
I had a recent experience that left me a little concerned and caused me to write this post. I am not one to get upset too easily by sales calls…I take the time to at least hear what people are offering before dismissing them…you won’t know if what they are offering is a game changer if you don’t!
However, I’m seeing a growing trend of salespeople trying the best “tricks” to get around the gatekeeper. While in some cases it is imperative to speak with C-Level to make your case; when you are making a sales call, it is just as important to listen to the person on the other end of the line to ensure that you aren’t missing vital information that can help you make your sale.
I received a phone call from a cleaning company; I will call them OBLIVIOUS CLEANING CO. The conversation went a little something like this:
OBLIVIOUS: Do you have a cleaning service and are you happy with them?
ME: Yes. I’m not entirely sure that we are happy with the current service (which is true) but the person who handles those decisions is out of the office (also true).
OBLIVIOUS: When would be a good time to call?
ME: They should be back in the office tomorrow.
OBLIVIOUS: What is the name of the person who handles these decisions?
ME (hesitantly): That would be Decision Maker (*my first mistake) BUT DO NOT ASK FOR THIS PERSON DIRECTLY, THEY ARE VERY BUSY AND DO NOT LIKE TO BE INTERRUPTED WITH SALES CALLS. Make sure you tell the person who answers the reason for your call and ask if the person in charge is available.
OBLIVIOUS: I will make note of that, thank you. And what was your name?
ME (also, hesitantly…especially since I ALWAYS answer the phone with my name): Andrea (*my second mistake)
So you are probably thinking: Why would you be mad? Those are two rookie mistakes (giving out your name and that of the person in charge to a salesperson). Here is why:
I have discussed, on more than one occasion, with our Decision-Maker (DM) their dissatisfaction with the cleaning we had received from our current service. I knew it was starting to be irksome, that the DM had reported it to our current company and had given them additional chances to make up for it. I also knew that the DM had considered looking for a new service. I was fairly confident that, eventually, this salesperson might have a good shot at getting their foot in the door.
I am also aware of how busy the DM is right now. I know that they are considerate of good ideas and services but that they do not have the time to receive a constant barrage of sales calls but opt, instead, for a message in which they can contact the company back when they have time available. Just because the decision maker doesn’t take your call, it doesn’t mean they won’t get back with you!
I don’t necessarily agree that giving out names is a mistake when faced with a product or service you might utilize. I feel my mistake with giving out names was two-fold:
1. As I said before, I always state my name when I answer a phone call…I should have realized when they asked me for my name that they were not really listening to me and therefore, couldn’t provide customer service in even the simplest form.
2. I shouldn’t have taken for granted that they would actually listen to what I was saying to them OR that they had common sense when it comes to basic sales etiquette. In giving a name, I was giving them the opportunity to send a mailer or drop off a coupon (to personalize the experience)…what they took from it was nothing short of shocking (and not in a good way).
The Horrifying Results:
OBLIVIOUS called the next day and asked directly for DM, stating that I referred them to ask for DM specifically (lies). DM said that we had another company coming in and that we were fine for now. OBLIVIOUS continued trying to sell the DM (I know, because my office is directly across from DM’s and I heard DM say several times, “we’re fine for now” before hanging up the phone because OBLIVIOUS wouldn’t let DM get back to work). Needless to say, DM was upset with me for giving out DM’s name and not taking a message; and I was upset with OBLIVIOUS for taking advantage of my generosity, and my attempt to provide DM with a choice our company might have benefitted from.
You would think that was bad enough BUT LATER THAT DAY…
A representative from OBLIVIOUS walked in the door and tried to hand me a card from their company, asking if we would consider a quote. I said, “Actually someone from your company called and upset the DM because they wouldn’t listen, so I think we’re fine for now.” He laughed nervously, said “Oh, okay” and turned around and left with his card.
…OR SO I THOUGHT
I told DM what had happened and DM said that OBLIVIOUS did leave a card with another employee who brought it to DM (which means that OBLIVIOUS had to have come back in after I retreated to my office!)
This could have been a good experience for all parties involved if OBLIVIOUS would have listened to me when I forewarned them not to interrupt DM. OBLIVIOUS could have offered both value and good customer service by dropping off a packet or sending a mailer.
The gatekeeper usually has a very good handle on what their Decision-Maker’s schedule and preferences are: ignoring them is like ignoring the person you are trying to make a sale to! If you want to make a sale, you need to know what the customer wants, not try to force your own beliefs onto them!
When I call and the gatekeeper asks if they can take a message and that the DM doesn’t like to receive voicemail, I don’t refuse to talk to the gatekeeper! I give a brief message about the reason for my call or ask if they prefer I send something in another format. Just remember, the gatekeeper is a person too, one that the DM trusts to answer their calls, the DM more than likely trusts the gatekeeper to transfer who they think are worthwhile…so be worthwhile!
What are your sales horror stories? Please comment and share… we love hearing from you! If you would like to know more about the best sales tactics, please contact us here, connect with us on social media (click the links below) or call 989-791-2475.
*This post has been only slightly modified. Original post was 10/29/14.