Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where have all the good sales guys gone?

You know years ago I used to rue the cold calls I'd get from sales guys "out there" trying to sell me stuff, stitch me up for the latest boondoggle or otherwise trying to get their figurative foot in the door.

I know that cold calls are just a part of doing business but it used to piss me off no end.

Oh how I wish the good old days would come back.

Over the last four weeks I have been called at least once a day by third rate telcos telling me that they're going to save me 50% on my current rates while I strain to hear them make the pitch over a third rate VoIP system that's been installed by a fifth rate technician using gaffer tape and baling wire.

The amazing part is that these calls are all coming from Vodafone, so maybe its not a third rate VoIP system, maybe its the kind of quality you get from their prime grade mobile network?

The thing about this is that the caller isn't trying to sell me the product, they're trying to sell me the salesman. The call usually goes like this once they've given me the savings pitch; "One of our sales staff will be in your area next week. They'd like 10 minutes of your time to show you our offering. What time can I book you in for?"

Here's the thing. If they're such a good sales person why aren't they making their own cold calls? If they're not such a good sales person and you can't trust them to make their own cold calls why are you sending them to me?

With this sort of approach I'm being told that we aren't an individual customer, I'm a name on a mailing list and just part of the great sales chocolate wheel, round and round and round she goes where she stops nobody knows but when it does stop on your number we'll call you.

How can any organisation that tries to pitch customer service as a key differentiator take this approach...oh...sorry...we're talking about Vodafone...strike the customer service comment.

The caller usually doesn't know a thing about the company, our needs, requirements and so on so how can they offer us anything other than a standard pitch that will promise the world until you read the fine print that, translated from legalese, means "doesn't matter what we tell you because what you need might make this offer worthless and non-binding".

Here's a tip for all the companies that use this type of bottom feeding sales approach:

Either let your sales staff make their own calls, or, if you can't trust them to hit their numbers get new sales staff who can build a relationship with your potential customer.

Call centres making ten minute appointments for a "consultant" who will explain the latest greatest deal is no way to build a relationship with anyone, and here's the trick, no relationship equals no sale.

And one last note to Vodafone. If you can't tune your CRM system to make sure I don't get 5 calls a week from 5 different call centre operators then I can't trust your technology with something as critical as my phones.

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