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“I Want To Follow-Up Our Earlier Conversations…..”

by David Brock on July 29th, 2015

I feel obligated to put a disclaimor on my behavior at the beginning of this post.  I sincerely try to be a good prospect when being prospected.  It’s very difficult to prospect, I know, I’ve made thousands of prospecting calls over my career.  As a sales professional, I have empathy for other sales people prospecting.  Generally, I’ll answer a phone call, if I’m in and available.  Generally, I will listen to someone and give them a chance.

So I do everything I can to be a good, well behaved prospect.

But in spite of that, it’s hard not to be tough on sales people when they do things that are incredibly stupid.

Today’s stupid(est) call (unfortunately, I get multiple stupid prospecting calls).

The phone rings, I pick up in my normal fashion, “Hi, this is Dave Brock, how can I help you?”

A cheery voice on the other end says, “Oh, you’re just the person I wanted to speak to, how are you today?”

Me, warily, “Fine, how can I help you?”

The cheery voice, “I’m So and So of  this Company.  I wanted to follow up on our conversation a few months ago about your accounting services.”

Me, “I don’t recall ever speaking to you before…….When was the conversation?”

You can already see where this is going.  But it’s the truth, I didn’t recall, but I keep a record of incoming/outgoing calls (Isn’t CRM wonderful?)

The slightly less cheery voice, “It was a few months ago, …..   actually these are notes from a colleague…..”

Me, “What was the name of your colleague? I’m sure I have that in my records, I’d like to refresh my memory on the call.”

OK, I know I’m starting to be a jerk.  You and I both know there was never a previous call.

It’s one of those manipulative prospecting tricks sales people try, hoping people are stupid enough not to realize there has never been a conversation.  It rarely works, but, a definitely uncheery voice continued, “Well, I’m really sorry, I don’t seem to have that information in my notes……”

At this point she just wanted to get out of the call, but I kept going  (OK, now I’m being a little sadistic, but I needed a little comic relief in the day.)

“Well, since it appears we haven’t spoken, what was it we would have talked about a few months ago if we had spoken?”

The less cheery voice,  “Well, I’d love to talk to you about how we can take all of your accounting off your hands and do a great job in managing your company’s books……”

Me, “Well, if someone from your office had called me before, they would have known to put me on your do not call list.  I would have said the same thing then as I’m saying now.  I’m absolutely delighted with my current accounting firm.  They’ve been supporting our company for about 20 years and do a fantastic job!”

Me, rubbing it in, “I’m really surprised that’s not in your notes.  It’s a shame for you to waste your time, not to mention mine, calling when you know I’m not a prospect.”

Me, going for the kill shot, “How else can I help you?”

I think I heard a meek, “Thanks, g’bye,” but she was hanging the phone up pretty quickly.

OK, I was a jerk, I admit it.  Perhaps I needed to let off a little steam.  But if she hadn’t started the call with a lie, if she had been straightforward, the call may have gone a completely different direction.

If she had started saying something like this at the outset, “Dave, we’ve never spoken before, but I know that people like you are very busy running business.  The last thing you want to worry about is the boring task of accounting……”  While I would have still told her how pleased I am with my accountants, it would have been a much more pleasant call.  Also, I may have given her the name of a friend who was whining about his accountants this past weekend.

Oh well!  Back to work.  Note to self, look at the caller ID next call…….

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  1. scott santucci permalink

    I don’t think you were a jerk Dave.

    The jerks in this story?
    1) Who told that woman that tactic was a good tactic- some cheesy sales tip consultant or a scum bag manager?

    2) The lead generation team that is bragging about the great C-level leads they are generating that got your name to her in the first place.

    3) The training she got – she tried to push you to a product conversation and clearly not trained to engage you in an empathetic way.

    4) The message – even if you were not happy with the account firm, would you want to have a conversation about an account system? I would rather poke myself with toothpicks.

    The villain in this story is not you Dave.

    The villain is the company that woman works for. The poor girl is going to believe this was something she did… or that you were a jerk. The truth is – that bad call is on the backs of all of the people inside her company “enabling her” with – bad tips, bad messaging, bad leads…bad – everything.

    The problem is that a lot of people will read your story and want to judge the poor woman, but I absolutely guarantee she is doing exactly what she is told. She’s the by product of a broken selling system.

    • Brilliantly stated Scott. The real unfortunate thing for most of these shabby prospecting approaches is the sales person takes all the blame. The sales person gets someone like me “toying” with her. Or the sales person get someone who may have an angry reaction, or slams the phone down. In most of these cases, it’s not the sales person’s fault. It’s the fault of bad management-teaching and forcing people to do these terrible programs. It’s clueless marketing, thinking that deception, shoddy approaches, poorly segmented call lists produces results. None of them have the courage to get on a phone. Each of them is taking shoddy shortcuts to engaging the customer. And they will hold the poor sales person accountable for bad results.

      Interestingly, in this call, my sense is she had the potential to be a pretty good sales person. The problem is, she will not realize her potential because of bad leadership and company strategies. Too many potentially good sales people get “victimized” this way. Thanks for the great comment Scott!

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