What a year! It seems as though every time I turn around, I’m trying something new. Last year, I didn’t know what a blog was, now I have one, post regularly, have readers, read others, and comment when appropriate (and sometimes when it’s not.) A while ago,
Those of you who know me well have already heard this. I am fortunate to be able to say that I was one of Dave Kurlan’s first clients. I was a sponge. I attended training classes for years and practiced non-stop. If you read my Burkinshaw Law bio, you’ll read that “I realized that the techniques and tools used by a professional salesperson with a prospective customer were exactly the same techniques and tools that were used by a professional debt collector with a debtor. So I founded a collection agency. Over the next 20 years, I developed a very loyal client base, got some publicity (the 13th entry here) and from Smartfast. I also worked with Matt Burkinshaw to found his Burkinshaw Law and my clients continue to be happy there.
Here’s the meat! After dealing with 1000′s of debtors, I realized that more often than not, I was cleaning up after a salesperson had made a “mistake”. Check out my expanded David Kurlan & Associates bio. Think about it. Twenty years of hearing this from customers who became debtors.
“The salesman told me three days, it took 3 weeks.”
“The salesman told me he’d throw that in.”
“The salesman didn’t tell me that the payments were due on the first.”
“The salesman told me he’d hold the check for a week.”
How about these from my clients who were small business owners?
“I bent over backwards for this customer, special delivery, extra samples, special terms….”
“I gave this customer a special introductory price as an attempt to get the rest of their business….”
“It took me six months to have a 10 minute conversation with this customer. They didn’t return calls. They stood me up. They ignored me, but I was persistent and got the business….”
“We were excited when we landed this customer. The biggest sale in the history of the company. This one customer was 50% of last year’s sales….”
“….and now none of these customers are paying me.”
And how about those idiot sales managers talking to their salespeople?
“Get the business whatever it takes.”
“Get the business, we’ll worry about capacity after.”
I can tell you that every collection problem, that’s right, EVERY one stems back to a sales problem.
If a salesperson doesn’t explain EVERYTHING (terms, delivery, service, etc.), we have no right to hold the customer responsible and the company has a collection problem.
If a salesperson DOES explain EVERYTHING (terms, delivery, service, etc.), but the customer doesn’t hear it, listen to it, or fully agree with it, we have no right to hold the customer responsible and the company has a collection problem.
If a salesperson does explain EVERYTHING (terms, delivery, service, etc.), and the customer does hear, listen, and agree, but they’re lying, we ABSOLUTELY have the right to hold the customer responsible and the company has a collection problem, but we absolutely have the right to FIRE our salesperson if they don’t fix their inadequacies. And, if they knew the customer was lying and took the deal anyway, I’d fire them immediately.
It is always the salesperson’s fault. They have no right to write bad business (whether they know it’s bad or not). They have no right to skip details that are important to customer satisfaction and retention. They have no right to help a customer steal from their employers. If I sound harsh, think about this. Hundreds of my clients are small business owners. One man shows, sole practitioners, small partnerships and closely held corporations. We’re talking MILLIONS OF DOLLARS! Do you think that those small business owners might like to avoid that whole problem? Do you think that they would have liked to get all that money without having to pay me?
That’s why I’m passionate about making strong salespeople. That’s why I have no patience for mediocre or crooked salespeople. I don’t do bad deals for my employers and I don’t want anybody in my circle to do bad deals for themselves or their employers.
Bottom line is, “Sell what you deliver and deliver what you sell.” If you’re not strong enough, get help and if you’re not committed enough to get help, tell your boss that you quit and if you are the boss, hire a good salesperson.
Last night, I attended the Fun at Five networking event hosted by Fine Lines and sponsored by Savers Bank. It was hot, but not just because the shop wasn’t air conditioned. It was hot because of the networking that was going on. Paul LaFlamme was their teasing everybody about an upcoming announcement. Mike Brady was there, but that’s no surprise because he’s all over all the time. I also had a very interesting conversation with the soon to be owners of a new catering business (more to follow when they’re official) about Goose Rocks Beach. I think that I may have met someone who loves that place as much as I do.
OK. Here’s the explanation for the title. I also hung out for a while with Cindy Skowyra. As you probably know, Cindy IS the Worcester Chamber. She’s everywhere. She’s an awesome networker. She is a person that people seek out. So, I ask, “Cindy, how come you don’t go to
This post is under construction. I expect that once done, it will be long. I hope that it will be interesting. Let me share the “seed”.
I’ve known marketers that couldn’t sell their way out of a paper bag. I’ve known salespeople that think marketing is all about advertising and supporting the sales effort. (I’ve also know salespeople that couldn’t sell their way out of a paper bag, but that’s another post!) So, I intend to dilineate the duties and responsibilities of each as well as suggest the “ideal” relationship. I expect to do some research and as part of that research, I’m suggesting that you comment with any opinions that you may have. Your comments will not only be posted, but will be incorporated into the final post.
Thank you for reading. Thank you, in advance, for waiting. Now, please comment. Incidentally, if you like the idea of planting the “seed” like this, gathering comments, and posting the final later, vote that you liked this post. If not, vote that you disliked this post.
Sometimes stuff happens that makes you think, “That was important!”
I really don’t like making people uncomfortable, but if the people are prospects, it’s probably necessary, and what I like or don’t like doesn’t matter. A client’s discomfort will typically increase the closer that you get to the root of the problem. At first, the answers to your questions may come easily, casual, even flip. As you delve deeper, you may have to re-ask questions or re-phrase questions because the prospect will not hear them or dodge them in an attempt to not answer. At the deepest level, you may find that your prospect is conflicted between what they want to do and what they must do.
What would you do if you helped a prospect realize that they had to buy from you, because if they didn’t, they would probably go out of business? But what if everybody realizes that the prospect really does want to go out of business? Would you let them go out of business or would you tell them they were crazy and that they should stay and buy from you? What would you tell your boss?
In the grand scheme of things, whether or not a prospect buys from you, today, may not change the world. But remember that your questions might start them thinking and thinking and thinking and realize that they need to make a major change. Watch their level of discomfort.
That will be important.
My wife and I had to go to a wake in Connecticut this evening. On the way down, my wife wanted to stop at the Christmas Tree Shop in Buckland Hills to get some ideas on picture frames. We did. She did. It was 6 PM. I hadn’t eaten since a light lunch at noon and we weren’t going to be eating dinner until after 8 PM. So, I bought a can of mixed nuts to munch on during the rest of our drive to the funeral home.
A few miles down the road, we’re both enjoying the nuts and sipping our Dasanis and I said, “Boy, that was a good idea! Huh?” (The nuts were really hitting the spot!)
She replied, “Yeah! That red is gonna be perfect!”
It took me a minute to realize that she was talking about the frames that she found. She still doesn’t have a clue that I was talking about the nuts!
Now, you have to admit that in this situation, it’s pretty funny, but on a sales call, it’s not funny if it doesn’t get corrected. It is the salesperson’s responsibility to assure total communication on a sales call. Ask questions. Re ask. Make sure the answers make sense.
As for my wife, I think she liked the nuts, but the frames were perfect!
How do you know when it’s OK to break the rules when you’re selling? How do you know that the prospect is asking the real question? How do you know that the prospect is telling the truth?
How about some examples?
So, I ask the receptionist, “Is Paul in?”. She asks, “Who may I say is calling?” I say, “Rick Roberge from David Kurlan & Associates.” She asks, “What is this about?” I say, “Sales development.” She says, “We’re all set.” and hangs up.
Or, I can follow the rules and do this: “Hi, this is Rick Roberge, is Paul in?” She asks, “Where are you calling from?” I say, “Westboro.” She says, “Hold on.” She comes back and says, “He picked up a call before she could get to him.” I asked, should I leave my number with you, or go to voicemail.” She says, “I’ll take it.” I give my name and number (no company). She asks, “May I tell him what this is about?” I reply, “I wish I knew. Hopefully he’ll be able to help when he calls.”
In case you don’t believe this, Pete Caputa, Paul LaFlamme and Steve Crowe watched it happen and heard both sides of the conversation. Incidentally, my target, Paul, the managing partner of a good size CPA firm called back 2 hours later.
In the first hypothetical but very realistic example, I didn’t follow
Consider yourself warned. This is a Proud Father Warning.
After you read this blog dogster-has-competition, forward the link to my blog to every pet owner you know in the NYC area. (That’s the beta test area.)
Thanks in advance.