I’ve written more than 1,400 articles for Understanding the Sales Force and every one of them has been my observation of salespeople, sales managers and sales teams. The observations come from sales force evaluations, sales candidate assessments, sales recruiting projects, sales training and coaching initiatives, and sales leadership training. After 10 years and 1,400 articles and to avoid boredom, we will change things up a bit for this article.
Ken is one of my longtime readers, a former client, and last week he sent this note expressing his frustrations as a buyer of services. I’ll add my comments and conclusions at the end of his note.
I just wanted to let you know that your sales training program has ruined me as a buyer. The ineptitude of almost every sales team I have encountered recently is chilling, especially since you have shown me that they can do so much better. I have come to wonder if it would be cost-effective for buyers to provide sales training to their prospective vendors to save us time, effort and aggravation in our purchasing process. Salespeople chasing prospects??? I can’t tell you how much time I spend chasing vendors.
I started a new career in Information Security about 6 years ago and am now Chief Information Security Officer for a fast growing SaaS startup in the expense reporting and expense management space. In my role, I need to purchase compliance services, auditing tools, training products, etc.
Here is the scenario that prompted this email:
A few weeks ago, I got a blast email to participate in a Webinar for a new auditing tool which was being offered by a well-known information security vendor. I attended the Webinar but no salesperson followed up. I went to the company website and filled out the ‘request evaluation’ form. No salesperson followed up. I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a conversation.
About 5 days later I got an email and a voicemail: ‘Would you like to set up a conversation?’ I responded to the email, ‘ I am available tomorrow morning from 10 a.m. to noon.’ The voicemail asked ME to call the rep. There has been no successive follow up. I then reached out to some consultants I know in the industry asking for intros. One gave me a name but no introduction. Finally, my auditor set up a call for today.
The call started out promising, (i.e., I didn’t have to sit through 50 NASCAR slides telling me how great the company was and all the other companies they have done business with.) The rep asked me what I hoped to learn. After I told them, he handed the call off to his Sales Engineer for the ‘demo.’ Unfortunately, the SE had no capacity to show me or discuss with me the auditing tool that I was interested in. After 2 minutes the rep broke in and suggested we re-schedule for another time. We’ll see if I hear back.
This is probably the worst example of about a half dozen similar ones where I have a need, I would like to buy something, and I end up doing all of the work.
Anyway thanks for allowing me to vent.
You’re probably thinking, well, that’s not what would happen if I was the salesperson or sales manager or sales VP or CEO. Believe it or not, this is fairly common! These are the very same companies that believe they have effective sales processes in place, that their 10% win rates are acceptable, and that they need to get people interested by conducting demos. These are the companies that don’t think they need help, have everything under control, have ineffective sales selection and even more ineffective sales management.
If the sales managers were decent, the very first time they debriefed a salesperson, listened to a call, observed a meeting, or discussed an upcoming call, they would have been able to identify ineffective follow-up, ineffective qualifying, ineffective listening and questioning, etc.
It’s most likely that the sales managers are former salespeople who, like those they manage, specialized in conducting demos, creating proposals, and finding the 10% that will stick.