4 Sales lessons I learned sitting on the other side

December 5, 2017
 

I spend the majority of my time helping companies market and sell their products and services, but from time to time I engage with salespeople pitching new products to me. When I get to sit on the other side of the table, it can be an opportunity to pick up some new sales tactics – or it can be a reminder of what not to do. 

I had a notable experience as I began to look for a website design agency to redesign our site. I spoke with various contacts at numerous agencies, from partners to business development managers to developers and creatives. Several left negative impressions that earned strikes against their pitch – for easily avoidable infractions.

Many did not even meet the baseline expectation of getting to know our business. Agencies that took time to understand our perspective, ask about our business approach and goals, and look into our online presence to recommend a thoughtful approach to a site redesign left me feeling like we were embarking on a partnership rather than beginning a transaction.

Beyond that starting point, here are four other lessons that serve as a (seemingly needed) refresher for all of us:

  1. Be human.

    Relationships are formed and deals are made between people, not companies. Don’t overlook the importance of building a rapport. I was much more likely to want to work with teams that could not only relate to my challenges and address how their agency could specifically help ours, but who would also make the partnership enjoyable.
  1. If you commit to a time frame, deliver.

    I like to think I have realistic expectations when it comes to answering emails, returning calls or turning around work. Not everyone’s on my personal schedule – I get it. But, I respect deadlines and rarely miss them. I do expect that same courtesy from everyone I work with.

    Imagine my surprise when agencies self-committed to a date by which they’d send a proposal or send the next deliverable and then missed it with nary a mention. You’re leaving me to follow up with you for business you’re trying to win? Not a good sign for the forthcoming project.
  1. Follow up.

    I was surprised by each of the experiences I’ve shared so far. I was flat-out flabbergasted at this: a couple of agencies (read: more than one) never followed up after they sent a proposal. I don’t even have much to say here.

    I’m just going to leave this question hanging: Do you want to win business?
  1. Stay strong through the kickoff.

    It’s typical that your sales contact will hand you off to an account manager or someone else in the company. Make sure your customer’s experience doesn’t change through this transition. Customers that sign on because of a positive experience through the sales process want that to continue through their work with your company. This is the time when opinions are forming, so make sure every person with whom prospects and customers interact at your company provides a “wow” experience.

Luckily, we found a partner, Hubnest, that didn’t need to learn any of these lessons. Throughout the entire process, their team knew exactly who they were selling to and working with, and they made sure our experience was a pleasant and successful one.

So, to all you sales and marketing folks out there, always remember that every impression your company makes is an opportunity to make or break a deal.

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