I meet with several vendors/sales people in the course of a month. As a student of marketing I have learned that I do not know everything. There is always the chance that I will learn a new sales technique when I visit with a sales person.
Unfortunately, I visited with a sales person last month from whom I learned what not to do on a sales call. Granted, he could have been worse, but for someone looking to pry $ 1000 out of my hand, he made some rookie mistakes.
It is not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings so I will refer to this sales person by a name other than his. I will call him Stan.
Be On Time
I was supposed to meet Stan on neutral ground at 12:30. While I arrived at the restaurant at 12:10 I stayed in my car and listened to Sports Radio until 12:29. When I came into the restaurant at 12:30 Stan was not there. I sat in the waiting area for about 5 more minutes waiting on him and then went ahead and placed my order.
Ten minutes later, my number was called and when I went to get my food, Stan was standing in the waiting area talking with a friend of his.
I was raised with the understanding, “If you are on time you are late.” While I understand that not every person is as anal retentive as I am when it comes to keeping a schedule, there are several business owners who take as gospel the proverb, “Time is money.”
I really do not get a good first impression when a sales person is late.
If a person is willing to grant you some of his/her time, don’t be presumptuous. If you show up to your meeting early, you are communicating respect for the other individual’s time. It won’t hurt you to sit in a waiting area for them until the appointed time. That’s what waiting areas are for.
If the person you see does not see you at the appointed time, you have every right to leave and tell the other person you also are a busy person and if he/she wishes to visit with you, then they need to reschedule.
If you are early and are made to wait past the appointed time it is, in my opinion, a sign of disrespect for your time by your prospect. They would not make the president of the US cool his jets. They would drop everything to see that individual. Why should you allow yourself to be treated with any less respect?
I understand that emergencies happen and/or traffic can be unpredictable. Back in my rookie days as an insurance sales person, we did not have cell phones. Today, however, is a different era. Most sales people have cell phones with them at all times. If you don’t, you should consider getting a pre-paid cell phone specifically for this purpose. If you can’t afford a phone, you may want to reconsider if sales is the appropriate career for you.
If you are not going to be on time for an appointment, call your prospect to explain the delay and offer to reschedule or continue with your current plans. If the reason you are running late makes sense, a business person will understand and possibly even appreciate the fact that you understand that time is an asset and not something to be wasted.
When Stan finally showed up it was obvious that he had not properly prepared for me. To his credit, he had done some research about me on line so he already knew a little bit about me and my wife. Unfortunately, that was about all that he had done to make me feel special.
A great deal of his presentation was on his computer. He had not prepped his computer for our visit. Again, my time was wasted as he had to click on several “Error” messages on his computer before he was ready to talk.
HINT: If you use your laptop computer, or any other prop, as part of your sales pitch, make certain they are in proper working order and ready to go before your appointment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a presentation on your laptop. I learned many years ago that visual aids help people understand and people don’t buy things they do not understand.
The key, however, is not the use of technology, but the proper use of technology.
In addition to the computer snafu, when I gave him my business card, he opened his portfolio and shoved it in a pile with other business cards, notes, receipts and other crap. He kept his printed sales material in the exact same compartment in his portfolio.
I understand that it takes all kinds of people to form our society. I tend to be a little on the neat-nick side of the spectrum but understand there are slobs and pack-rats as well. I don’t expect everyone to live up to my standard of cleanliness but if I am going to give someone a check for $ 1000 I want to feel fairly comfortable that it is not going to be lost.
What I have learned in my life is that you will never offend people by being neat and organized but you run that risk by appearing disorganized to your prospects.
If you elect to be a pig at home, more power to you. Just make certain your work area is neat and organized.
My first boss in sales once told me that he had a trick he used during a hiring interview. He would have an agent or member of the office staff field questions from the applicant while he snuck out to look at the applicant’s car. If the inside was full of fast food wrappers and other trash, he would know one of the extra things he would have to retrain if he even offered the job to them.
Once we got down to business, Stan’s “pitch” was only about 10 minutes. The problem is that during those 10 minutes he asked no questions about me or my business. Everything he said was about his offering.
Apparently, Stan does not understand that prospects always ask themselves, “What’s In It for me?” before they buy.
Stan never bothered to ask about what my business goals were. If he had, he would have known, before he wasted his time and mine, the demographics of my target market do not use, want or perceive a need for his product.
He assumed that he knew what I needed without verifying anything about me.
The lesson that can be learned by any sales person is not to assume anything but to ask questions.
There are some other lessons that Stan can teach but I think 3 are enough, for now. After all, Stan is a human being and deserves a break of some sort.