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Please Do Your Homework Before Contacting Me!

by David Brock on January 28th, 2014

As sales professionals looking for new business, it’s critical that we establish our credibility in our very first contacts with a prospect or customer.  We then have to maintain that through every subsequent communication, creating value in every exchange.  We all know that, but I’m amazed at how few people execute that.

I get all sorts of queries–and I’m not talking about the obvious SPAM who’s sole purpose is to clog up the web.  Emails asking me if we are interested in learning the latest advancements in lean manufacturing technologies, and how we can leverage them in our factories–I suppose because I write about Lean Sales And Marketing, people must think I have factories that do lean manufacturing–though I struggle how they guess this.  Others that cite the benefits that companies like IBM, Google, Citicorp, General Motors, and General Electric have gotten from implementing their [fill in the blank] solutions.

The list goes on!  Yet I have so many people trying to prospect me on things that are obviously irrelevant to our company and me.

It doesn’t take much to figure it out.  Look at my LinkedIn Profile, or our company’s web sites.  I own two boutique consulting companies and a start-up software company.  I don’t have any factories.  The solutions IBM, Google, and others implement are probably of little interest to me.  Not because I’m not interested in those organizations, but because the scale of the solutions and problems they are trying to address is very different than what any of our companies do.

So when I’m contacted, I wonder “Why?”  Do you know what we do?  Do you know what we are likely to be interested in?  Are we in your sweet spot?  Do you care?

It’s clear that many of the people contacting me haven’t done their homework.  So they immediately lose credibility with me–not just for what they are contacting me about, but for everything they do.

So what!

Well the impact goes far beyond the purposeless call or email.  I develop a bad opinion of the sales person.  I develop a bad opinion of the company, after all, the sales people are just executing the strategies and programs their managers are telling them to execute.  I generalize, “If they were so off target with me, if they didn’t do their homework, if they don’t care, then maybe that’s what they do with everybody and everything.”

Then I might talk about, just casually.  I might be in a conversation, “Boy, I got this strange email from this company (not a sales person), that was really off target.  Wonder if they know what they are doing, they don’t know what I’m doing and don’t care.”  So now I’ve influenced someone else, who might, in turn influence someone else, and so on.

Or someone might ask me, “Have you heard of this company…….”  Then I share my experience…… it’s certainly not helpful.

You can imagine how things go.  And that’s not when I’m pissed off because someone keeps hounding me!  I genuinely don’t mean to be negative, they are good products, good companies, but so obviously far away from something that I might be interested in, that it just raises questions.

So doing your homework is important, not just with me, but with everyone you contact.  Everyone has similar reactions.

This is also why knowing your sweet spot is so important!  If the person selling the latest greatest lean manufacturing technologies and systems knew that boutique consulting companies and start up software companies don’t tend to have factories, the sales person wouldn’t waste his time and credibility.  If someone understood the ERP and Financial Systems software that is best for IBM, Google, and General Electric, would likely not be a good solution for small consulting and software companies, then they might not contact me or they might use a more appropriate and meaningful reference.

This is all simple, basic stuff.  It’s sales and marketing 101, but too many don’t do it.  (I’m including big companies and big brands in this statement.)

It’s very difficult to build and maintain our credibility.  Fundamentally, it’s about creating value in every exchange.  But it only takes a bad call, email, or experience to destroy it.

So before you dial that phone, before you hit the send button, before you launch that email campaign, take a few moments.  Do your homework.  It makes a difference!

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