As an industrial marketing consultant I work with senior manufacturing executives who are struggling to attract prospects and convert prospects into customers. I am often astonished at the poor quality of industrial marketing in general, and personal selling in particular, as found in many manufacturing companies.
What many of my clients forget is that as a business owner, I too get approached by salespeople. This is instructional for me as it gives me the opportunity to discover how companies are structuring their prospecting approaches. I also can pick up new variations on prospecting methods. Usually it is a positive learning experience.
Periodically I am disappointed at how I am approached with substandard prospecting practices (sometimes from very large companies), but lately I have been noticing a prospecting technique that is flat out wrong. This prospecting technique completely ignores the most basic “Selling 101” skill and is costly to any company unfortunate enough to employ salespeople who are following this practice. It ignores the fundamental principle that selling is about revenue generation.
So, here goes….
The other day I was contacted by a salesperson at a company who was kind enough to offer me some free information about a product in which I had less than no interest. This was following a 2 minute conversation in which he did all the talking and I did all of the listening. I reckon he did not want to be interrupted in his spiel so he would not be thrown off track.
At the end of his spiel I declined his offer for information and this poor misguided salesperson seemed to be quite puzzled and disappointed.
Once I got off of the phone with this salesperson I was trying to piece together why he felt it necessary to force irrelevant information on me. So if you wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt what reasons on Earth could there be for this?
Is it relationship based selling gone crazy?
Perhaps he thought that randomly sending me information would be a good way to demonstrate his skill in relationship-based selling. Yes a one-sided relationship based on him talking and on me listening.
Is it a comprehensive misunderstanding of the law of averages?
Another possibility was that he had some kind of bizarre thought about utilizing the law of averages to his benefit. Simply put, if he sends out enough information maybe some of it will stick. While I can see some validity in this thought, it would seem to me that the odds of finding a qualified prospect using this method would be slim to none.
Is it a way to get me plugged in to marketing automation software?
Lastly, I thought that perhaps he was making a real effort to get me entered into his marketing automation software. After all, once this was done I could then periodically be sent more information I didn’t need from his company while the software automatically nurtured the non-existent lead which was presumably me.
What is selling about?
I always thought that selling was about revenue generation. Not a particularly novel thought, you would think. An effective salesperson needs to understand this and take the appropriate steps to optimize his selling process to maximize the probability of generating revenue.
So, if this misguided salesperson was being trained by me what would I do? Quite simply I would be certain he utilized at least one qualification question towards the beginning of his phone call. Now while the old budget, authority, need, and timing (BANT) qualification questions still have merit they can be a bit much at the very beginning of the selling process.
A wise salesperson would be qualifying for need first. If there is no need there is no sale. This salesperson attempting to send me information on his product was as relevant and effective as sending a business on the ground floor of a 20 storey building information about roofing shingles.
Budgets can be found. Those with decision-making power can be found. You can determine the optimal time frame to purchase. The fact is that if there is no need there is no sale. Even if you are shrewd enough to use a process that might jolt me out of my status quo, if there is no need there is no sale.