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A terrible sales strategy

You: Found a cool product and filled out a web form to get more information.

Salesperson: Emails you, asking to set up a phone call.

You: “I don’t even know what it costs or what it does. Can you send me some background and pricing first?”

Salesperson (thinking that getting a live lead on the phone is all that matters): “It would be better if we could talk for 10 minutes so we can understand what you want to do.  Happy to get you pricing based on what you want to accomplish.  Can you give us 10 minutes at 1:00?”

You: (thinking that they are acting like a total ass and not wanting to waste your time with a product that may not do what you want, that you don’t know if you can afford, from company that responds to an interested prospect with high-pressure sales tactics): “No thanks.”

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  1. Scott September 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    How is asking for a ten minute phone call a high pressure sales tactic?

  2. Andy Sernovitz September 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Spoken like a true salesman!

    Because the prospect told you exactly what they need to hear to advance the sale to the next stage (which is what you want).

    So the choice to insist on a sales call instead of giving answers only has one purpose — engaging in a sales presentation.

  3. Scott September 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Agreed, but I wouldn’t say salesperson but more of a consultant :) or a reality checker….

    Lets flip it and place yourself in the shoes of the sales consultant:

    Should said salesperson spend their time with you, are you worth their time as a lead, are you the “right” kind of buyer….the salesperson would probably be able to sum that up pretty quickly with their 10 minute phone call. If the sales consultant is good they wouldn’t even bother presenting to you and be able to qualify you out pretty quickly.

    Also, you failed to mention what kind of product you were seeking to gather more intel on; is this software, a new TV, a car…the sales consultants approach and response would vary wildly based on this alone.

    I believe you asked for it with your intentions as noted right here:

    You: Found a cool product and filled out a web form to get more information.

    Do you have the actual transcript of the email message that you can share?

    Scott- Salesperson :)

  4. TT September 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Hi Scott and Andy,

    In the real world, hypothetical always loses.

    Scott, you bring up lots of great hypothetical questions, but Andy brings up an actuality….

    When the prospect TELLS you what they need to move on to the next stage – that is an actual – listen to them. Listening to prospects, clients, even family members is becoming a totally lost way of life – and people are craving it.

    Why not send them something, then a few days later ask for the appointment?

    Listening to their needs, could be a good idea.

    And a profitable one.


  5. Greytip Online September 24, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    Andy’s view will very much fit in any price sensitive market.

    When somebody got a budget pressure and wanted to quickly complete the purchase, prospect would be interested in knowing the price first and then features. This a common approach it seems

    If we look at SaaS services, most of the reputed and confident vendors are publishing the price upfront

  6. michael September 24, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    Scott thinks the salesman needs to “qualify” the buyer. That means the salesman wants to find out what the buyer wants so he can assure the buyer that the product is a good fit for the buyer’s needs. On the contrary, it is the buyer who needs to “qualify” the product – In particular, how much does it cost and what are the features? I am the buyer; I set the agenda – not the salesman.

  7. Scott September 24, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Michael- I agree with this scenario partly, but it all depends on the product; we need more context on what Andy had requested more information on to understand the complexities or non-complex transactional nature of this product.

    For example; if I want cable television, I want a price clearly marked online and I want to be able to buy it online in less than 30 seconds; if I want enterprise software to support my Fortune 500 brand then expect the consultative sales approach.

    To my previous point- “Also, you failed to mention what kind of product you were seeking to gather more intel on; is this software, a new TV, a car…the sales consultants approach and response would vary wildly based on this alone.”

  8. michael September 24, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    “The customer is always right.” – Dale Carnegie

  9. Peter September 24, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    In the Fortune 500 scenario (i.e. hundred thousand dollar software), yes, there will need to be a sales presentation. However, that’s not really implied in the initial situation depicted above. The vast majority of sales interactions involve products that can be described quite adequately in a page or so — at least enough for the buyer to validate his decision to inquire further.

  10. Andy Sernovitz September 24, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    I’m glad we’re having this great discussion!

    Here’s where I’m coming from, and maybe this is the main point of the post.

    As a customer, I want at least ballpark pricing before I invest more in the relationships. Doesn’t really matter if it’s $200, $2,000, $20,000, or $200,000. I don’t expect an exact quote, but I also don’t want to waste my time if we’re off by 10x. Not being able to get that in an email conversation always feels unpleasant and sours the relationship really fast.

    As a salesperson myself, I want the same thing. Find out if the prospect is in the right range before getting into a bigger conversation.

    Upfront communications is a win for all. We all have our preferences for how to communicate, with many people preferring email. So when someone says “I can only tell you this by phone” — it starts off badly. We can have the same conversation by email.

  11. tvjames September 29, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    Better than “No thanks” – tell them the truth. They need to hear it.

    Offering communication via email but then insisting you switch to a phone call puts the salesman at an unfair advantage. This is our first potential purchase, this isn’t your first sale. You’re not facilitating, you’re closing. We’re not there yet, don’t yank our chains. Especially if you want to make additional sales, especially if you want us to tell our friends.

    Respect the prospect’s preferred medium.

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