Like many of you, a lot of sales professionals reach out to me. Some drop in, hoping for a chance to introduce themselves and their product. Some call or email, with the intent of scheduling a longer phone call or face-to-face in the near future.
Regardless of how they reach out, I try to respond personally to all of them. They have a job to do and I respect that. Very recently, I had two very different experiences from two company representatives that wanted me to consider the product they offered.
In the first example, a folder with information was dropped off for me at the front desk of the hotel. I received the folder at approximately 3:00 pm. With a very full schedule that day, I made a note to review and respond the next morning. That evening, I received an email from a member of my front desk team. It turns out this sales person was a guest in the hotel. His reservation had been made about a week prior to his arrival. He was quite upset I had not responded by end of day, made reference to me flying out to visit him at his office and then questioned the quality of the guest experience at the hotel, from the product offered to the level of service.
That same day, I received a note in the mail from Debbie, an account manager for Classic 107, a local radio station. Debbie and I had spent time together the week before. She asked me lots of questions to ensure she understood our priorities and customer demographic and provided initial suggestions on how she could help us achieve our marketing goals. Even though Debbie left without any immediate new business, she sent me a lovely, handwritten note, thanking me for my time and promising to follow up later in the year.
Debbie and I had a scheduled appointment, but my team knows to call me if someone drops in. If I am available, I make the time to meet with the person, even if only for a few minutes. I used to participate in sales missions, from a city and a brand perspective, so I get it. By far the majority of our calls were planned, but sometimes along the way, we would simply drop in on the off-chance a decision maker would be immediately available to see us. It rarely happened. At that point, the gate keeper was our decision maker. The gate keeper’s impression of our professionalism was vital. What he or she said about us directly impacted the possibility of a response or what type of response we would receive.
Ensuring a positive pre-sale experience is important. A 2011 Consumer Report’s survey indicated that customers who bailed on a transaction did so because of poor service. That’s potential customers who were ready to purchase but chose not to.
There are a lot of touch points in between first point of contact to signing a deal. Each of those moments can make or break a potential sale. Be as careful of those touch points as you are about each and every one after the first sale is made.
And in case you are wondering, I did respond to the first salesperson the next morning as planned, expressing disappointment his guest experience was not the positive one our entire service team is committed to providing and extending an invitation to share his concerns with me personally. To date, there has been no response to my email.
Then I called Debbie to get her permission to mention her by name at a future date, knowing at some point a blog would be written. She graciously agreed. I look forward to our next conversation.