The Sales Life: Coffee with the CEO

Coffee With the CEO Graphic - Feb 8

For most of us sales folks the idea of getting on the phone and leaving another voice mail or sending an email that never gets a reply is old, boring, and tiresome.  It’s hard to “get up” to leave the 10th voice mail about how cool we are or to coax them into calling you back when you know the chances are less than 1%.  We wrestle with this every day when we pull up our CRM, and the debate goes something like this: what if I just enter a note so it rolls over for the next 10 days because I know they won’t pick up; and what if they do pick up!; I have literally left 10 voice mails and sent 10 emails following up the voice mails I just left; I have used all my good stuff in the voice mails; how would I even respond if they actually picked up – I’m sorry I don’t have anything prepared for an actual person, I thought I would get your voice mail; whew that was close.

But seriously, is this our life?  What are the odds of a customer finally picking up the phone, letting you quote and then buying from you after all that? They are actually pretty high.

There are two schools of thought on this. One is that you have actually developed a connection to the customer that is pretty safe for them.  They can listen to your voice mail or read your email and not feel pressured to say yes or no or anything. It’s like a TV commercial: repetition sinks the message in and eventually they become familiar and even may believe they have talked to you and feel very comfortable with you. This assumes the messages you leave are always good, upbeat and explain a sample of your service offering like a commercial. It even pays to be funny and sound like you are having a great time. Everyone wants to be part of the fun, right? The customer is getting the message, and in most cases, it really is about timing.  There is a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time. I personally delete emails and voice mails all day long from folks trying to sell to me because they haven’t made a good case to me as to why I should even listen. That is one of our biggest mistakes. You need to drop those breadcrumbs on why you are better or what you are offering on every call, even if the call ends up being a voice mail. It’s still a touch, so make the most of it.

The second thought on this is that sometimes customers just operate this way.  We are highly trained and we want to close fast and if we sense we can’t, we generally want to move on. That’s effective, too, but how do you know when to say when? I use a couple of markers to decide. Since we are only leaving voice mails and not talking to them, it’s very difficult to get a personal read on them, so the first question I ask is are they moving my type of freight? Am I taking to the right person, the buyer? Are they even employed there anymore? That happens, too. If I’m leaving messages for the right person, and they are moving freight, then I will stay at it for quite a while. I even left a message once telling the guy if he didn’t pick up the phone and tell me to stop calling him, I would just keep calling. (He never picked up, by the way.) Then it comes down to time. Do you actually have time to pursue a seemingly dead end lead when you are getting work from other customers, and is it worth standing on principle to prove that you are a really good sales person only to be left alone in the cold? That’s when decision time comes up, and it’s easy to pass on them or let someone else try them. That’s right: they don’t get let off the hook, they get a new sales person now trying to get them to pick up, and all along they could have just picked up and said “stop callin’ me”!

You decide how to play it. Depending on how much time and energy you have, but I can tell you some of my best customers were the ones who never answered a call or email for six months until one lucky, shining, golden moment, and then all is well. A relationship is born! Ahhh.


Keep trying!


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