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Will You Let Me Buy, Rather Than Trying To Sell To Me!

by David Brock on September 6th, 2011

Today, I was doing some research on upgrading a product I currently used.  I wasn’t sure about what would be included in the new release, consequently, wondering whether I should upgrade or not.

I visited the web site, was struggling with the information on the website.  While they kept wanting me to buy leveraging buy buttons and pop-ups, I struggled to find the information about the changes in this software.  Then the, “Do You Want To Chat” pop-up came up. 

I decided to go for it.  It asked for my name, email address.  Having been through this before, I knew I would be inundated with unwelcome calls and emails trying to get me to order.  I ignored filling those in, just putting in my first name.  “Kyle” responded to my chat request.  After the welcome message, he started to try to get my contact information.  He’d type in “What’s the name of your company?”  I’d respond, “I just am looking for information.”

He’d respond, “What is your email?”  I’d respond, “I’m trying to understand if these features are part of the standard upgrade or if they are in the optional modules that I have to pay more for?”  Kyle said, “I’m not sure, can I get your information?  How many licenses are you interested in?”  “I responded, “The product data sheet says these are in the standard product upgrade, can you verify that for me?”  Kyle responded, “No you have to upgrade to our enterprise packaging, would you give me your email so we can contact you further?”

Kyle really didn’t want to answer my questions.  He was insistent on getting as much of my contact information as possible.  Finally, in frustration, I replied, “Look, I am not prepared to give you my contact information yet.  I just want some clarification on what’s in the product upgrade, and what’s not.  The data sheets on your site are saying one thing, you are saying something completely different.  Have you looked at the data sheets?  Can you tell me the answer?”

Kyle sent me a final message, “Thank you for contacting us, we hope we’ve answered your questions in a satisfactory manner.  If you have any other questions, please email me at….  We appreciate your business.”

He then terminated the session.

I still don’t have the information.  I had thought of upgrading, across our company, the additional licence fees would have been about $15K.  I couldn’t get the information I wanted.  I guess I’ll put it off, I probably don’t need the function anyway.  Boy I wish Kyle could have answered my questions…………

The problem isn’t Kyle’s.  He’s just doing what he has been trained to do and how he is being measured.  His didn’t know his product, all he could do is get mey contact information to get me into a marketing cycle. 

The problem is deeper–basically a trust issue.  I’m normally not so averse to providing my contact information, but I’d had trouble with this company before. With past queries, I would be inundated with emails, sometimes, several a day.  I’d get daily calls.  In the past, even if I informed them I was looking for information only, they kept pressing for orders in follow-up calls and emails.  Their engagement process taught me to be wary.  They have trained me to be careful in providing my contact information.  They have trained me to minimize the information I share, until I am ready to make a purchase decision.  They have conditioned me to be very focused in the ordering process, avoiding the upsell/cross sell.  In our short online conversation, it was clear that Kyle was trying to upgrade/upsell me .  Despite learning the product I originally asked about had the capability I was asking about, Kyle claimed it didn’t, I’d have to buy a different version.

I’m a current customer, though often I wish I wasn’t purely because of the way they treat me.  If my business weren’t dependent on this software package (high switching costs), I wouldn’t stand for this treatment.  I wish they would help me buy, rather subjecting me to their selling.  They’d get more, I’d get more–seems simple.

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15 Comments
  1. I really enjoyed your distinction between helping me to sell vs subjecting me to your sales pitch. I think this is very important for sales reps to understand and be able to separate the two. Great post- thanks for sharing!

    • Lauren, it’s such a pleasure to see you commenting in this blog! Too often sales people get so goal directed/pitch oriented they forget to listen to their cusotmers. As in my case, they missed the fact that I wanted to buy and just needed info, instead they tried to sell me and lost the order — at least for the time being, and Kyle won’t get the order.

      Thanks for joining the discussion, I really look forward to your future comments. Regards, Dave

  2. How funny David, that he didn’t seem to even care that you wanted to buy and if he’d answered your questions and started to build rapport with you, he may have got the sale, possibly just running from a flow chart/ script..
    Great post.

    • Paul, thanks for the conversation. He was so busy following the script, he missed the conversation and the opportunity to get an order. He went further to terminate the discussion, leaving me frustrated and upset. My immediate reaction was to go to the competition’s web site and spend 15 minutes assessing whether I could migrate my business away.

  3. I’ve had a few of those conversations in my time…and boy don’t they make you want to scream.

    Frustrating as it is for you, at the end of the day, it’s their loss.

    • It’s their loss, but it’s all of our loss–the customer loses, they’re trying to buy and sales puts roadblocks in the way. It’s a loss for the profession, the more people acting this way makes it more difficult for those sales people that really want to listen and help customers buy. As customers, we build up our defenses against all sales people.

      Thanks for the great comment Jackie!

  4. Thanks for the nice article. Indeed, people want to BUY, not to be SOLD! Great salespeople focus on questioning– poor salespeople focus on pushing prospects to close. Unfortunately, not a lot of salespeople fall in the “great” category!

    • Thanks for the comment Craig. I think there were several issues at play. The sales person apparently felt rigidly confined to the script—so rigidly that he could not take the time to listen and really understand what I was seeking. Two, through past experiences with this company, I have become unnaturally reluctant to give the personal information. I know that doing this will open the flood of emails trying to get me to buy something, trying to “engage” me. They’ve created an environment of minimal trust. Three, is they have created a negative customer experience with a current customer. The only things that keep me as a customer is the product is very good, I enjoy using it and get great value from it—until I have to talk to them. At times the “hassle factor” is so high, that I consider switching-but switching costs are prohibitive. But here’s the gotcha for this organization, while they will continue to have me as a customer, I will be very cautious about expanding our relationship and I will only recommend them with a huge number of caveats–for example, “their product is good if you are willing to put up with ………” Is this a way to build a business?

  5. Teresa permalink

    It’s interesting to read this, at first I could understand why the salesperson was pushing for contact details and as a sales trainer I would encourage a salesperson to do this, but it seems to me that the fundamentals of selling were not there, which is such a shame or even having a basic understanding of selling the way the customer wants to buy. Instead of engaging with you, the customer, you became just another faceless enquiry and the conversation reached deadlock. It’s shocking that there a companies out there who still don’t invest enough time and money in their employees, it’s a false economy

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Teresa. There is no doubt, the sales person was missing some fundamentals. I think this is a problem with many of these highly scripted call centers. They don’t provide the salesperson the tools to be able to deal with an “off script” discussion. The process could have been very simple. I was clear about the information I wanted. I told him where I was in my decision cycle. I told him why I was reluctant to share my information. His script did not provide him the tools to deal with this, (plus the “call time” was probably getting long for him), so he chose to abandon the call, and the deal.

      Shame on him, but more importanlty, shame on his management team for not providing the tools to listen, engage, and go off script.

      Thanks for the comment. I appreciate you joining the conversation. Regards, Dave

  6. This is definitely a great example of technology gone awry with bad design. It may have even been a chat bot app that collects info and uses work rec to respond before dumping to a live agent.

    I think you are dead on in expecting to buy instead of sell. You exchange tells you the type company with whom you are dealing and I would have changed to a different sw just based on this exchange.

    • Great points Rick–it does cause one to rethink whether you want to pay your good money to company that does this. Thanks for the comment

  7. I can acknowledge your experience as i have had it so many times. In an emerging economy like India, there was nothing like serious customer service. The market was pretty much supply drive, making sales and service, a privilege offered by the company to its customers. But today its not so. What your saying in your blog above is what many people are talking and writing about. As we become a demand driven economy, companies need to understand that they need to help us buy – that’s enough to have many loyal customers. This will make the buying process much more pleasure and enjoyable.

    Thanks for sharing this on Christmas! I always feel, sales is a form of giving.

    • Raj, thanks so much for the thoughtful comment. The most sustainable differentiation we can create is to become trusted advisors to our customer in learning how to buy effectively. They no longer need us to educate them on our products and services. We must help them learn how to improve their businesses, how to address new opportunities, and how to buy. Thanks for the very kind comment. Best wishes to you in the coming year!

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