The Importance of Compelling Need

I, like you, take a fair number of incoming sales calls. I don’t have (nor want) a gatekeeper to screen them away. If it’s a recording, I put the call on hold and forget about it. If it’s someone reading a script poorly from a company that I don’t care about, I’ll do the same or just hang up. Occasionally, it’s a real sales call from a real person and although they may have a script or an outline, they are trying to engage me in the conversation. I’ll often play along to see what happens.

Last week I took a call from a person that I’ve “seen around”. Carries himself well. He’s the principal. Friendly. Gives no appearance of being incapable, professionally. I like him, and if somebody asked me about him, I’d say something like, “Seems like a good guy, but I’ve never heard him talk about the stuff that he does and I don’t know anyone who uses him”. Truthful, but not exactly an endorsement.

OK, so back to the call. He calls and says, “Hi, Rick this is _____.” I reply, “Hey, _____! What’s happening? How was Christmas?” We exchanged a few more pleasantries and _____ said, “Well, Rick, this is my official sales call.” I replied with something like, “Cool.” but I thought, “It’s about time.” We met several months ago. _____ is in a very competitive industry. I have someone that does what he does for me. I have several people in my network that do what he does. (Interestingly, I can only remember one other “sales call” from any of the others.)

So, he told me that he’d like to schedule a meeting where we could talk about where I am, what he does and then he’ll go away to do a proposal for me. I replied that we’re expecting our first grandchild any minute (still waiting as I write), we have new kitchen cabinets being delivered on 1/15 and the plumber’s coming to redo our bathroom before that. I have important business events happening on 1/17, 1/20 and 1/24 that all need preparation, a cruise scheduled for the first week in February and the kitchen will be installed shortly thereafter. The only other things that I kinda expected was a trip to Mexico before we opened up our beach house in early April.

How’s that for a stall? I not only put him off for almost two months, but he understands how busy I am and believes that it would have been impossible for me to meet with him. Now, here’s the truth. I HAVE NO COMPELLING NEED TO MEET WITH HIM! I DON’T KNOW WHAT, IF ANYTHING, HE’S EVER DONE FOR ONE OF HIS CLIENTS THAT I NEED DONE. I DON’T KNOW IF MY GUY HAS UNDERPERFORMED. HE WANTS TO SCHEDULE A MEETING AND HASN’T PUT ANY SPECIFIC ITEM ON THE AGENDA AND WITHOUT AN AGENDA ITEM, WE’LL NEVER MEET. Am I too busy to meet? I suggest that most of _____’s clients are busier than I am, but forget the rest of them. Since I spoke with _____, I’ve developed a stuffy nose. If I still have it on January 2nd, I’m gonna call my doctor and see him ASAP! I will make myself available when he is available. Why? I HAVE A COMPELLING NEED!

_____, I’ll agree that we should meet, but we should probably talk about what we could do for you rather than what you can do for me. Your move.

Customer Loyalty

What is customer loyalty? Is it important? Do you have it? How do you know? What if you don’t? What can you do? Can you do it on purpose? Is it an accident? Is it them or you? What are the benefits? Are there any drawbacks? Do customers want to be loyal or do they resist? Can it be tracked?

What do you think?

UPDATE: Brian Halligan makes a couple of good points on his blog Small Business 2.0. Enjoy!

Motorola Q, Bluetooth & Sales

Huh! OK, here’s the story. I don’t have to be the first to have the newest thing, but if it’s cool, I don’t want to be the last. So, I’ve been watching people use organizers, Palms and Blackberrys for years. Without getting into specifics, I didn’t join them until last Thursday, 12/21. I bought a Motorola Q and Bluetooth headset. My wife used my phone last night without the headset and said, “It feels like you’re talking into a calculator”. That’s one of the reasons that I bought the headset. The other was the convenience of receiving calls while driving. I hope I never become one of those people that wears the headset while walking around so they’re “ready” or worse, one of the rude idiots that wears it while they’re having a face to face conversation in case somebody more important calls. The reason that I bought the Q was to be accessible. Not so much to be able to access, but when someone wants me, I want them to be able to reach me. Cell phone and laptop used to be enough. Like Emeril, I want to step it up a notch.

This isn’t actually a treatise on technology, early adopters, or even customer service, but I needed to share this story to set up a subsequent incident. Naturally, I had to show my new toy around. One of the people that I showed it to told me that he had had the same phone since 1999 and wondered if he should ask his boss for a new phone. Don’t you think that’s weird? Is he wearing the same suit to work that he wore in 1999? Driving the same car? Same eyeglasses? This guy is a well paid, well respected, “leader in his field” professional. Ask his boss? Did he ask his boss when he upgraded his suit, car or glasses? Isn’t your cell phone a “personal” tool to make you more productive? I was blown away. How much more productive could this person be if he invested in himself rather than waiting for his boss?

I think this is mindset. Owner mentality vs. employee mentality. I’ve been offered company cars, salaries, paid vacations. I always opt for mileage reimbursement, commissions, and unlimited time off. I decide what tools I want for work. If my employer wants to contribute, fine, but I make the investment in myself to make myself more productive so I can bring more value to my clients, my employers and hopefully the world. So, I decide which phone I want and I pay for it. I decide what car I want and I pay for it. I decide that I take summers off and I pay for it. And, are you ready? I paid for my own sales training. I own it, so it comes with me wherever I go.

Merry Christmas!

Win a new Dell Laptop

Paul LaFlamme is a client of David Kurlan and Associates.

He’s a member of several networking organizations, chambers, and serves on several committees.

He’s also a father, husband, homeowner, taxpayer, voter, etc.

He’s also very generous.

His company, Centrend, will be sponsoring a business after hours for the Tri-Community Chamber of Commerce at the Publick House in Strubridge, MA on December 19th. As if that wasn’t enough of a gesture, he will be giving away a NEW DELL LAPTOP! Other sponsors will be giving away tickets to the Nutcracker and an assortment of gift baskets. So, if you’re feeling lucky, festive, full of the Christmas spirit, or just want to exchange business cards with a bunch of other business people, come along. See details here:

Sales Super Stars

It’s been an interesting few weeks. Several posts worth. Here’s the first.

I had an interesting conversation with Mark Murphy last Friday morning. For those of you who didn’t meet Mark, Mark worked as a salesman for a major building products company for over ten years and earned a ton of money while he was there. We had the opportunity to work together for several weeks. Mark made the comment that he had learned something from each of us, me, Mike, Chris and Dave. So, last Friday morning, I said, “Mark, think back a year ago. You’re back at the company. Top of your game. Top guy in the company. TV personality. Respected. Sought after….The man. Now, pretend that I called and said, “Hey, Mark. I’m a hotshot sales development, super trainer and I can make you better!” What would you say?

His response was predictable. He would have said, “Look around. I’m the best! I’m invincible. I don’t need help. I can’t be improved. I’m perfect!” Then I asked again, “Did you learn anything from me?” “Yup.” “Did you learn anything from Chris?” “Yup.””Did you learn anything from Mike?” “Yup.””Did you learn anything from Dave?” “Yup.”

So, if a hotshot, TV star, hop on a lear jet, national, company leader type super star salesman can learn from the likes of us, what do you think the chances are that you could learn something?