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I Don’t Mean To Interrupt You…..

by David Brock on January 19th, 2010

Just opened an email.  It started with, “I don’t mean to interrupt you…….”  I hope he did mean to interrupt me, isn’t that the point?  Don’t we want to capture the customer’s or prospect’s attention?  Aren’t we trying to get them interested in us–maybe even wanting to meet with us?

Why do we do this to ourselves?  What is it that causes sales and marketing professionals to hide our true intentions behind polite words?  Customers and prospects know what we want to do, so let’s not dance around the issue.  We do email marketing to catch attention, hopefully to get the customer to respond in some way.  We want to interrupt them long enough to take action.  We call prospects on the phone to try to engage them in a discussion about their needs and our abilities to address them.

Somehow we don’t want to be direct in our communications with prospects and customers.  This is not only in prospecting or creating interest, it’s also in the sales process itself.  We don’t ask the direct questions, we dance around the real issue—even when it’s sitting on the desk between us.  What are the issues you are concerned about?  What do you think about our ability to address those issues?  How would your rate our offering against the others you are considering?  Why do we avoid the questions?

One reason we avoid them because we are afraid of getting a direct answer—it might be “No.”  We don’t want to hear the bad news.  We don’t really want to hear what customers think because we might lose the opportunity.

Another reason, is we don’t want to appear to be impolite.  We see obvious issues, yet the customer doesn’t seem to see or understand them.  We’re afraid to address the elephant in the room.

What would happen if we were much more direct in our communications with our customers and prospects?  I don’t mean to be impolite, but rather than wrapping all sorts of fancy words around what we say, by avoiding talking about what we are really trying to accomplish; what if we were open and direct in our communications?

I tend to believe it would simplify things for our customer and us.  It would remove all the artifice, enabling us to have a real conversation with our customers.  If they really aren’t interested in my solution, I want to know that as soon as possible, rather than wasting their time and my time on something that will never happen.  If they are missing something, perhaps I can create real value by helping them understand the issues and opportunities a little better.  If we are open and direct in our communications, we can quickly identify and focus on the things most critical to the customer, more quickly.  Some of those things may not position us very well, but at least then we know about them and can develop our strategies for dealing with them, rather than being blind and guessing.

Being open and direct is not being pushy.  It is not being impolite.  Being open and direct is a demonstration of our respect for the customer or prospect and enables them to be open and direct in their responses to us—-now we have a conversation, which is what we want.

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  1. David,

    Good advice!

    Being direct is not being pushy; it’s called being assertive. If more sales people were assertive (not aggressive) they’d achieve much better results. Plus, being direct saves time for both you and your prospects and customers.


    • Kelley, thanks for the comment! Somehow I think too many sales people don’t understand directness and assertiveness—both how much customers really appreciate it and how it really does save time! I appreciate you taking the time to make the point.

  2. I find this falls into the same general category as “your call is very important to us,” or, “to be perfectly honest….”

    They are disingenuous at best, and annoying lies most of the time.I like your observation that their intent is to head off negative answers.

    Regardless, it is not good practice. Thank you for pointing it out.

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