I believe that every person's time is valuable. That is right, not just mine, everyone's. There are many frustrating things in business, but one of the things that really gets me going is someone that wastes my time. I try very hard not to waste anyone's time. There are really easy ways to do that.
The easiest way?
Sounds easy right? There are so many passive-aggressive, can't stand confrontation, can't say no people out there. If you can't say no thank you to someone, then you most likely should not be in a decision making position. Really - how can you engage people in a project and then not give them the courtesy of an answer? BE HONEST. I would rather hear no, than no answer.
Let's face it. Salespeople can take the answer no. So why are people so afraid to say it to us? Salespeople deal with different levels of rejection on a daily basis. It could be as simple as the obvious gate keeper that says, "Oh I'm sorry, he just stepped out. Would you like his voicemail?" Or it could be someone yelling at you, "Don't ever call here again, we are not interested in you or your products".
Which one do you think I prefer? #2 - hands down - all day - every day. Just say no. BE HONEST. It is ok. I can take it.
We are a very service oriented sales organization. Many consultants would say that we give away too much valuable knowledge and information during the sales cycle. That we consult and offer things that we should actually be charging for. Well, that may be true, but we are not going to change that. If you decide to do business with us, we will offer you a lot of information and a high level of service.
Here is where we get burned. Someone calls, they are looking for a new display. Of course they are usually on a really short time frame. They have a show coming up in just a few weeks. We jump through every hoop imaginable, get our partners engaged, have production on stand-by because the prospect has said that they really want this booth. Guess what happens? They quit returning my calls, they don't answer emails. Seriously - BE HONEST just tell me you bought something else or you aren't going to do anything.
Let's not forget the perennial tire kickers. "Lori, we are going to look at updating our booth for the huge industry show this year. Can you do some N/C product concepts for us and renderings and spend 15 hours with multiple meetings in your showroom, and come to our office to visit further? Then I will decide (again) to not do anything this year and ask you to call me again next year?"
Ok, I exaggerate slightly. But not much.
If you are just looking for budget numbers and considering an update, BE HONEST. If you let me know that, I can gauge my time and responses appropriately. Most likely I can get you what you need to make a good decision without jumping through all those hoops. Will I jump through them for you the next time - most likely. Should I pre-qualify the opportunity more? Possibly. But trust me, I do ask the right questions and often get the answers that indicate it is an opportunity that should be pursued. What is your budget, do you have decision making capabilities, is the decision maker on board, what is your timeline etc. etc. etc.?
If you are not in sales, you need to know that a good sales rep gets really excited about a new opportunity. What is the magic number where you have burned me with a no decision or a no response before I will quit responding? I honestly don't know. If I did know, I would BE HONEST.
Will I change how I do things? Probably not. I still believe in full service sales and I believe it speaks to our culture. Should I change how I do things? There are probably a lot of opinions about that. If you choose to share your opinions, feel free, be nice but BE HONEST.
Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years. She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients. Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David. They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers. If you would like to learn more, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.