Friday, September 22, 2017

Come ON clients! Sales reps are people, too! Be decent to each other.

I sell advertising for a living. It's great on many days, good for many more days, but those bad days can be downright demoralizing. The reason is consistently because our clients and prospects think it is OK to lie to us.  

Some salespeople are annoying. And some of us--like me--are trying to help your business grow. But we're all people at the end of the day. This might be news, but salespeople have feelings, too. 
Here are a few things salespeople wish our clients and our prospects would not do because it's simply bad for business.

You may not always know what's going on, and it's ok to tell us. 

Don't make something up. Don't ignore our calls and emails until you have an answer. Just be honest.
I don't always know what's going on at my operation, either - I've been there myself.  "I don't know" is an acceptable answer. I have to account for my time to my boss. So when you're afraid to tell me 'this is going to take a while' or 'we just got a new CEO and everything is on hold', then I re-tell your fibs and give my boss bad info. Now two organizations are suffering.

If you aren't in the market, that's ok. Just say so. 

We are on commission and we do not feed our families per phone call, it's per closed deal. Let me spend my time with prospects that are more likely to turn into deals.

Just say 'no thanks.' I know, you're afraid I'll button-hole you with 'why not?' Some might, some won't.

But please don't waste my time with "try me in 6 months" if you don't plan to be any more interested in 6 months. This is what happens: I spend 6 months thinking about you. Ready with ideas and deflections to objections. I will call you and we'll have to do this dance again. In fact, the best way to get me off your back is to refer me down the hall to the one who really makes decisions, like your CEO.

Are you pretending to be in charge? Knock it off. 

I'm a serious professional. I expect you to be serious, too. If you're not really responsible for signing the check, just tell me. We can be friends. My attention may be flattering or I might be offering you the keys to the next rung up your ladder. I am not your tool.

Please don't pretend and let me present to you based on what's not really the whole picture. This wastes everyone's time.

And this never works because I *will* ask you for the order. When you can't answer, you don't look better in my book. I'm not impressed with your proximity to authority.

Don't be so literal. Why can't we collaborate?

I will make a proposal based on the info you gave me. If I get close, but it is not quite right, make suggestions. Hanging up or ending the discussion because I got an inside-baseball detail wrong and then tossing out the whole idea is short-sighted.

Proposals are a starting point for negotiating. Think about you want to get out of this. If you tell me, I'll bet we can get there, but playing a guessing game with you is expensive for me. I might lose interest in helping you find the solution you need to grow your business.

Negotiating or cheating?

We have a published rate card. Just like McDonald's has their price list mounted on the wall. I share this pricing with long-time clients, new clients, and prospects. Some of my clients are competitors with my other clients. When you ask for a bigger discount than the published rates, you're cheating. The other clients aren't getting that discount, so why would I give it to you? I'm trying to be fair to you and to the clients.

If there is a deal to be had, I want you to buy the deal, so I am going to find all the discounts and smart deals I can dig up in an effort to close the deal. We will talk about the pros and cons of each discount objectively. Truly, it does me NO good to over-charge because you're smart and will likely find out. Then who's the mook? Me da mook.

But I won't be party to cheating my existing clients to appease a new, unproven client who storms in demanding things at the beginning of a relationship and acts like a bully. In our organization, we see our strict policy as a benefit that your competitor can't get a better deal than you. You're welcome.

Have some compassion. 

Plans change. That's what businesses do. And it's really ok. We'll go find other business, that's what we salespeople do. But please recognize for a moment we put in a lot of energy, emotional energy, into your proposal and thinking about helping your business grow and be successful.

I am excited to start new campaigns with clients because it's fun. I know I am not alone in seeing my clients as my partners. Business break-ups are hard, too. It is nice to have our work, our effort on your behalf acknowledged.

I know it is tough to share bad news. All bad news is easier to take when it doesn't feel like a personal rebuke, too. Be professional, even on the bad days.

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