Lessons from an ineffective sales call

Andrew Neitlich

I got a call from a salesperson at a fledging search engine yesterday, asking me to pay money to market my business with his company. Here is how the call went:

Him: Hi Andrew how are you today?

Me: Who’s this?

Him: This is Joe Smith, we talked maybe six months ago. Do you remember? I’m with XYZ Marketing and Search.

Me: No, I don’t remember.

Him: Well, back then we talked about our search engine, which can help you market your business.

Me (getting annoyed): Okay, if you say so.

Him: Well, are you interested in new ways to market your business?

Me (sighing and annoyed at such a dumb question): Of course.

Him: Well, would you like to learn more about our search engine and how it can help?

Me: Not really. I’m quite busy now.

Him: So, you aren’t interested in new ways to market your business?

Me (amazed I haven’t hung up yet): No, I guess not.

Him (acting incredulous, as if I were an idiot for not allowing him to make a pitch): Okay then, have a good day.

I can’t believe that companies hire salespeople and let them make such stupid calls. And then, they keep salespeople who actually end unsuccessful calls by trying to make the prospect feel stupid for not moving the conversation forward.

Why was this call stupid?

1. He assumed a relationship that didn’t exist. Why should I remember a salesperson from 6 months ago?

2. He knew nothing about my business, or how I market, nor did he endeavor to ask.

3. He provided nothing but a generic feature (market your business), something that every search engine should offer. What’s unique about his?

4. He tried to make me feel dumb by closing the call negatively. I’ll never take another call from him again.

What could he have done differently?

1. Ideally, let me come to him, with a personalized letter or email explaining why his search engine is unique and how it can help my specific business.

2. Staying in touch for the six months (with my permission), with a variety of educational materials about how to market my business better.

3. Gradually developing a relationship with me so that we know each other and I perceive him to be a person and not just an annoying salesperson.

4. Taking my “no” in a more elegant and polite way, so that the door remains open later.

5. Asking me smart questions about my business, how I market it, and what is and isn’t working — especially as pertains to search engines. Then he could educate me about any unique advantages about his company’s solution.

6. Having a polite tone, not an arrogant tone. He should be role playing on the phone to hear how he sounds. I’ll bet he wouldn’t buy from himself!