You may have heard that here in the Atlanta area many are suffering
through repairing their homes after torrential rains and flooding – the worst EVER for our area.
Understanding that cleanup and waterproofing contractors are likely the same
folks who are hurting due to the present economic downturn, the following actual conversation is regrettable.
This dialogue occurred last week between our highly educated friend
Tina and a waterproofing contractor (emphasis added):
I just had a fine
gentleman leave who REFUSED to give me an estimate on waterproofing.
“I can only talk to the decision
maker”, he said to me.
I explained I was
his audience…to which replied,“Yes ma’am, but this stuff is pretty
technical, beyond what you could explain to your husband, and may cost
more than groceries, so I should talk to your husband, can we call him and see
when I can meet with him?”
Guess which (2) of
these responses I said next….
a) I’m sorry he
doesn’t let me make outgoing calls.
b) The truth is I
left my husband years ago in search of something more, like a waterproofing
c) I can see you
are a wise businessman with a solid marketing strategy – are you looking for
d) I’m quite
certain we will be giving someone else our money this week, but I am going to
find a very special place for your contact information.
e) I actually have
a wife, not a husband; can you imagine how hard it is for us to decide on
Anyone want me to
send this treasure to his or her house?
Though this real life example is obviously laughable, unfortunately, it
is also common.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the problem with the above is two
1) 1) The seller is not treating the buyer with respect – maybe she’s
actually an engineer? Or maybe she is just smart enough to understand the
proposal he will make? In truth, Tina exudes intelligence form the moment you
talk to her. Often times,
listening is the most important selling skill.
2) 2) Though he is on the right track to try to qualify the opportunity,
the seller is ignoring any possibility the “wife” had decision making authority
and blows this important step in the process.
I discussed this train-wreck of a conversation with a client of mine
who manages a sales force. He will be sharing this conversation with his team because it reminds him of the subtle
ways his sales-people self-inflict injuries to their opportunities.
He compared it to the important CustomerCentric Selling® step of figuring out who the other
key players are when you only have one contact at an opportunity.
Guess which question below makes him want to poke his eyes out:
“So, who are the decision makers on this project at your company?”
“So, who else, besides
yourself, will be involved in the decision making process?”
I hope you choose the first one.
For me, we can glean two important lessons from Tina’s conversation the sales manager’s corollary. First, treat everyone with respect – seems like a life lesson as well as a
business lesson, no?
Second, words count. Your
company can have the best products and services and a slick marketing campaign
that drives people to explore what you have to offer. Yet salespeople like Mr.
Waterproofing will throw water all over your opportunities if you don’t help
them watch what they say.