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We Want Your Feedback!

by David Brock on September 3rd, 2009

Yesterday, I got an email from a service provider for a Sales 2.0 tool that I rely on for much of our communication with our clients and prospects.  After the typical friendly greeting, I focused on the following:

“…we know what great things customer feedback can do for a small business like yours. That’s why we offer an easy-to-use, highly affordable online survey tool.  In fact, we believe gathering feedback is so important, we’re reaching out to gather your thoughts – so that we can continue to bring you the products, services and support you need to succeed.”

I knew they were serious about getting feedback because they added this postscript to their note to me:  “PS – Let’s face it… feedback is important. And your feedback is especially important. Please take a moment to complete our brief survey before September 16, 2009. You’ll be automatically entered to win one of 20 $100 American Express® Gift Cards.”

This is fantastic, I thought.  It looks like they are seeking my opinion to improve the already outstanding service they provide.  There are some things I would like to see that would make this tool much more useful to me.  I was, frankly, excited that they were looking for customre feedback to “bring me the products, services, and support I need to succeed.” 

I eagerly, went to the survey, confident that my feedback would help create a better product for me to use, as well as help grow their business (I thought other customers and prospects might also want these improvements).  Imagine my confusion.  The first few questions focused on how our company gets feedback from our customers.  I guess I should have been a little suspicious, when, somehow in most questions, the issue of online surveys was somehow included, but I went on thinking, “soon they are going to ask me what I think of their service and how it can be improved.” 

I reached the final question and it was ” Are you aware that we offer a survey tool that you can use to get customer feedback?”  Then I got it.  They didn’t want my feedback, they weren’t looking for input about how I can better use their service, all they wanted was to cross – sell me.  Under the guise of asking for feedback, they really didn’t want it, they just wanted to push more product on me and get me to give them more money. 

This company, a key provider of Sales 2.0 tools, rather than taking the opportunity to develop a richer and deeper relationship with me, instead chose to manipulate me with  feigned interest in my feedback, to try to get me to buy more.  Clearly this is a case of marketing and sales running amuck.  It’s impact is that it has made me much more suspicious of the relationship I have with them.  It will make me much more skeptical about future communications with me.  It has also opened me to considering alternatives—coincidentally, one of their larger competitors had approached me 2 days ago.

Why do sales and marketing people continue to resort to this bad practice?  Why, when we are trying to develop deeper, trusted relationships do sales and marketing people continue to resort to tricks, come-ons, and deception?  It is no surprise that buyers continue to build walls and become more distant.  We fear being manipulated and we have ample evidence supporting it.

If this vendor had approached me straightforwardly, perhaps even using their tool, and educated me about their survey offering, I might have considered it.  But they chose differently.  We all have choices in how we sell and market.  Let’s make choices that deepend the relationship, demonstrate that we value the relationship, and produce value for customers.

Two postscripts:

1.  I did send a response to the original email, the only reply I could send was to marketing@  the company.  I expressed my disappointment in not being able to provide feedback and that they had missed a valuable opportunity to connect with me.  I do know that at least 4 people have opened and read it, I know one is on vacation.  I’ve not received any response to my feedback….I guess they really didn’t want it.

2.  We talk a lot about Sales 2.0 tools enhancing the way we communicate and build relationships with customers.  As with any tool, there is no magic.  A tool used poorly can produce terrible results.  The real promise of Sales 2.0 is not the tools, but that we as sales and marketing professionals think smartly about how we use those tools.  All the tools do is help us execute our strategies more efficiently.

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