I write to you today, seller, because I want you to succeed.
Sorry it didn’t work out this time, but I had to say “no.”
I tried to buy from you, but too many things got in the way. You made too many mistakes that turned me away. This has happened to me more times than I’d like to admit. If you’re trying to sell to me, and you’re willing to change a few things in your approach, we have a good shot at making it happen next time.
Here are nine things you should do:
- Research me before you call.
If you’re reading this, it seems you have the energy and forethought to figure out what, specifically, will help me buy. This is a good start. Don’t forget to incorporate this research into your sales messaging, starting with your initial outreach, and flowing through our first conversation. Get my company name wrong and I’ll notice. Give me an example of how you’ve helped a manufacturing company and I won’t care.
- Ask more questions.
I research and plan before I buy. You’ll find I already have a good sense of my needs, desires, and specific buying criteria. If you don’t ask questions to find out what’s important to me, you’ll miss important details on my list.
Last week, I was looking at marketing automation technologies. I researched. I read. I had my functionality desires and my criteria planned out.
Then I called a provider.
Before I got to share any of this with the salesperson, she launched into a long demo. She showed me every little detail of her favorite features. I had to interrupt just to tell her that I wasn’t interested in what she was showing me so I could ask questions about other features.
I left the call wanting to learn more. I planned to call back later and try to talk with someone else. She didn’t seem to get what I needed (because she didn’t try), and I didn’t know if her technology was the right fit.
- After you ask, open your ears.
After you start asking questions, don’t forget to turn on your listening ears. Asking questions to uncover needs is a core part of any sales process. Then, you need to articulate back to me what you think I need, what I’m hoping for, and what it’ll look like when I succeed.
Do this and I’ll know you didn’t just ask, you understood.
- Make recommendations.
I need help working through challenges and coming up with the best ideas. I expect you to be a subject matter expert. You should show me new ways of doing things and bring solutions to the table. Too often, this doesn’t happen.
- Don’t be late.
You lose big points in my book if you’re late for meetings, late for calls, or late with documents. If you say you’re going to do something by a certain date, do it. If you’re late when you’re selling to me, I’ll be worried you’ll be late when you’re working with me. Not good.
- Provide examples.
I’m a visual person. I learn through examples that I can see, and not just hear. Show me how you’ve helped other customers who were in the same situation as me. Share results. Let me see and read them. Do this and I will envision myself walking in the shoes of a very happy and successful person that you helped.
Get this to happen, and you probably have me.
- Show me the money.
I’m a mix between a Skeptical Steve and Analytical Al. Even if I’m the one starting the discussion, even if I’ve done my research, I might not be sold on doing something. I need you to help me build the business case for why I should work with you.
- Follow up with me.
Working in a small business requires me to spin many plates at a time. Priorities shift regularly. If I don’t respond to you, it usually has nothing to do with you (assuming you followed the tips noted here).
It has everything to do with me. I’m not going to chase you down, but if you continue to follow up with me, you’ll help me keep your item on my to-do list.
If you don’t, I might just forget that we even spoke.
- Don’t twist my arm.
I don’t play games and I don’t like it when sellers try to play games with me. Hard-nosed closing techniques never sit well with me, and they don’t sit well with most corporate buyers I know.
If these expectations are too high, stop right here. Don’t pick up the phone. Don’t send that email. Lose my number and delete my email address.
If, however, this all sounds reasonable and you’re confident you can avoid these sales mistakes, give me a ring. I’d look forward to hearing from you.