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I Hope This is Not Your Small Business Sales Process

May I sell you something without understanding anything about your business?

I understand you want to grow your business – I’m in business to help you do that.  But if your small business sales process sounds like the story I’m about to share, you’re making a mistake and we should discuss…

I recently received a phone call. Yes, not all that rare, though it is rarer these days than it used to be, my leads come from inbound communications or in-person conversations and referrals, not from the phone. The Caller ID popped up “UNKNOWN from UNKNOWN.” 9 times out of 10 that’s enough red flag that it’s going straight to voice mail (and never returned). I’m pretty good at saving the contacts of folks I want to talk to, so UNKNOWN remains UNKNOWN.

But for some reason this time I decided to answer it. Maybe I thought I was going to get a blog post out of the conversation, maybe I couldn’t think of something better to do, maybe my papa-bear instincts kicked in and I had a brief moment of terror that something had happened to my children…who knows, but in any case I answered it.

Turns out it was a cold call from a well-known, global leader in business credit information. I could hear all of the other call center agents (or are they “Business Development Representatives” now? Or maybe “Business Credit Analysis Specialists”?) in the background – very loud, lousy headset, lots of background noise including a pretty clear conversation about what was for lunch that day.

Then we got down to business.  My Rep proceeded to ask me:

  • Do you have a legitimate business?
  • What does your business do?
  • Are you meeting your goals for 2015?
  • What are your goals for 2015?
  • How would you like to spend $495 for a “full” credit report that will enable you to never be nervous when selling because customers will know you’re a real business?

I of course signed right up and gave her my credit card number.

Ok, no I didn’t. But I did roll my eyes a lot. At some point this did become a “I’ll get a blog post out of this” call so there was some value, though not the value the Rep was after.

Now, I don’t blame the Rep, I’m sure she’s been thoroughly coached and trained (maybe even successful) at this volume-based, cold-calling, completely ignorant approach to selling. And as I mentioned this was coming from a very well known large global brand so they clearly have been selling a bunch of something to someone for a long time.

But if you are a small business owner concerned with growing and marketing your business there are a few things to take from this as you think about your sales process:

  • For you personally: if they get by your gatekeeping get off these calls in a hurry, in fact try real hard not to answer them.  You don’t have the time and you’ll be doing us all a service by helping to slowly but surely extinguish this type of selling and marketing
  • For your business: Please for the love of all things good don’t let your sales force sell like this. Instead:
    1. Determine a target market – which includes understanding the needs of your target market.
    2. Determine your key messages and unique difference.
    3. Build from your referring customers.
    4. Have a process for gaining, nurturing and renewing lead sources.
    5. Rinse and repeat. Discipline and consistency is the most important thing here.
  • If you simply MUST do relatively “cold” prospecting – at least empower and teach your sales reps and partners to do basic research on their targets – Google Alerts and LinkedIn go a long way for this and cost you nothing.

With some time investment and stopping the madness long enough to actually think through your sales and marketing strategy you can beat a large number of your competitors by communicating and selling better. Small business sales & marketing does not have to be that complicated, even when you are constantly assaulted by tactic-of-the-week and pressure-based sales techniques.

Concentrate on markets where you’re already successful and it’ll do much more for you.  As a small business you cannot afford to waste time on tactics like this, you need to get your sales process down to a much more focused approach to growth.

To learn more about the Duct Tape System for simple, practical and affordable small business sales & marketing services please download our eBook 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success from the form above in this post.

Post-Script: I also recently received an email with this opening line:

“I wasn’t sure of the exact services your firm offers, but I’m assuming it’s more than just {fill in the blank with some random acronym they’re guessing at}?”

I just love emails like this.  Has anyone ever actually bought from one of these? My assumption is that they’re purely a spam tactic to somehow verify an email address and/or open a malware download but I’m a bit amazed they exist.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…

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