Are salesmen the scum of the Earth, or the harbingers of helpfulness and productivity? Or somewhere in between? As with everything in life, it depends. Second question – what’s the best sales approach? Ahhhh, it depends. Third question – how should you deal with a persistent salesman? Saaaaaaaaay it….. …. it depends.
I’m sitting at my desk, and I receive a call from a very huge, super well-known bank that shall remain nameless (they’re huge, you probably bank there). The caller is an older sounding woman with a southern drawl. She asks me if I’d like to meet with an officer from the bank so that they could explain their products and services to me. At my day job, we have several banking relationships, and we’re always looking to make more banking friends. We do not have any money at this bank, but for various reasons I won’t go into, it might not be a bad idea to get some money on deposit there. This is a sales call that I didn’t mind taking!
I asked her if it would be her that was coming out. She made it clear that she just makes these phone calls, and that the local officer in charge is Joey Joe Joe (I changed the name to keep it all anonymous here).
So I asked if it was Joey Joe Joe that was going to be coming out. She said no, probably not, but she couldn’t be sure – it would probably someone that works for JJJ. I know that it is probably impossible to be personal when you’re a gigantic massive bank, but this is failure number 1. I like getting to know human beings – I’m relationship-driven. For me, I would have liked to know who I’d be dealing with. Yes, I’d find out the day they arrive, but I felt like a number. I got the idea that I wouldn’t be forging a real relationship with a local banker. But I’m being a big baby about this; I digress.
She then says, “To make sure we send out the right person, I need to ask you some questions.” At this point, I always get really paranoid and think to myself, “How do I know she’s really from So-And-So Bank?” She doublechecks my name, business address, all that. And then she asks for our annual sales. I’m secretive about stuff like this when I want to be or need to be, so I said, “We can discuss that stuff in person when you guys come out here.”
She sternly says “I am going to need to get this information from you if you wish for the call to continue.” It is at this point that my eyes cartoonishly popped out of their sockets like horns (think Looney Tunes). Buh-duh-buh-duh- WHAAAAAAAAA? You called me! You are trying to earn my business.
I said back to her, word for word, “I’d really like to talk about this with a live human being, in person.” I’m sure I sounded like a real jerk, but it was an honest sentiment. An online bank like Ally.com is not relationship-driven, but my business banking relationships still are.
She persisted, and eventually she was able to get me to reveal a range of numbers that our sales fall within.
This blog post would be useless in the hands of the CEO of this big superbank that I’m going to be meeting with in a few weeks, but if you’re a just-starting-out, tiny, small, or even medium-sized business, this is advice for you: the number one word in customer service is listen. DO NOT FORGET THAT! You will see me blogging about this constantly – I will rap you about the head with it until everyone understands! You have to listen to your customers, pick up on their cues, make them feel comfortable, and provide them the information they need (not the info you want to shove down their throat).