New Year's Advice for Buyers and Sellers
The start of a new year brings a new impetus for both customers and salespeople.
Customers (or prospects) have goals for the year, initiatives to execute and budgets to help them get those initiatives done.
Sales folks have products and services to sell, territories to canvas and, very definitely, quotas to hit.
Customers need solutions. Sales people want to make sales. Both parties know it.
So whether you're one or the other, there's one thing that's for sure: the new year will see much in the way of sales outreach - emails, brochures, phone calls.
Most of that activity, though, will be going one way. Much as the salesperson would like to think otherwise, the bulk of those communications will go unopened, unanswered, unconsidered. (OK, maybe I made up that last word, but it's true.)
So, this year, I'd like to propose we, collectively, consider doing something different.
If you're a salesperson:
- DON'T send the usual email, asking if the prospect would simply like to speak or meet to discuss your services
- DON'T regurgitate a laundry list of the capabilities of your product or service
- DON'T send emails with gimmicky headlines
- DON'T leave voicemails asking for the prospect to call you back, but not providing any other detail about you, who you are, why you're calling (Yes, that has happened to me, and I never return those calls)
- DO get creative in your communications - send snail mail with a personalized, handwritten message about your value
- DO speak - simply - to how you can deliver immediate impact to the prospect, in tangible terms
- DO target your communications to fewer prospects but make a more compelling pitch when you do. Send something unique and appropriate to the prospect that is relevant and catches their attention, but also ties in with your message
- DO put some thought into each message, which means doing your homework about what the issues are at the prospect's organization and his/her role specifically
The bottom line is, if you're a sales person, be original. Be creative. Don't do the run of the mill. Don't treat the sales process like a factory. Don't treat the customer as if they're simply another 'hit' along the road to revenues.
If you're a customer - well, if you're a customer, you're the target, so to speak. You are the holy grail and you'll have plenty of folks vying for your attention. Technically, there's nothing specifically required of you.
But I would make one request. If you're a prospect/customer, if you see a genuine and reasonable effort on the part of the sales person to reach out to you, if you see a genuine consideration of your needs, if you see a level of creativity in their application and outreach, then I'd suggest that you just need to do one thing.
Yea or nay. It doesn't matter.
If there is value in what's being proposed, excellent. Everyone's happy.
If not, but you saw some reasonable and genuine effort in the outreach, then just do the simple courtesy and send an email back to the sales person and let them know.
Thanks for your efforts and outreach, but there's no need for these services at this time.
I like what you have to say but the timing is not right. Let's talk next year.
Trust me, good sales folks will appreciate the communication. It ensures they are in the loop and clear about your intentions. They aren't left guessing and can prioritize their time better, focus their efforts better. There's nothing worse for a salesperson than to see a genuine effort disappear mysteriously into the ether.
So, if you can, just do the hard(er)working sales folks a favor, and provide some real feedback.