Selling Something? Don't Be Like Bob.
Updated: May 25, 2020
As a buyer, I’m annoyed. As a sales professional, I’m fascinated.
To protect identity, I’ll call him “Bob.” Oh, how Bob’s introductory email showed such promise! He saw my article on LinkedIn, and thoughtfully connected my work as a business growth strategist with a new online tool he was selling. He used one of my favorite words: transformation. The text was concise and formatted well for easy reading. He dropped a few impressive client names and ended the email with a clear call to action. Bob focused on benefits, not features. He spoke to me, not about himself. GO, BOB!
Curious about this transformational tool, I clicked on the easy link Bob gave me to set an appointment. (Bob uses Calendly, as do I.) It was a date! Or, so I thought.
A few days later, I got a clearly automated note asking if I had read Bob's first email. To be fair, Bob doesn’t know me yet. He doesn’t know that I live at the intersection of marketing and sales; I'm a total pest. My clients only use machine-led marketing tools to help their relationship-based sales process, not hurt it.
Anyhoo… Yes, Bob. I got your email and I followed your call to action and we have a date. I want to believe you care about me, Bob. So, I’ll assume your tool is just so awesome that you have been flooded with appointments and can’t keep track. It happens.
As I perused the video links Bob sent me before our call, I started to get really excited. Bob's content smartly focused on the problem the tool solves, prior to introducing the bits and bytes of the solution. Holy crap, I thought. They are describing my problem. I might actually need this solution. (Note that if they had just spewed instruction and tech specs, I'd not have made the connection.)
Then, the date. Because Bob didn’t set an agenda or gain agreement about what we were to accomplish on the sales call, it was a bit of a rambling mess. We were on video conference which should have aided communication. However, Bob’s eagerness to “sell” kept clipping my buying signals.
While I wasn’t impressed with Bob, I still really liked his cute friend: the tool. By the end of the call, I was mentally trying to justify buying what he was selling. It seemed to be exactly what I needed. Or, was it? Bob was confusing me. Our time was up. Although I tried to convey my genuine interest, Bob’s next date was waiting.
I was all like, “Call me…” and Bob was all like, “Sure, sure…. Yeah… okay. Bye.”
Bob never called. Or emailed. A week or so later, I wistfully clicked on the video link again. Yup, this tool could be really awesome for the next stage of my business. It’s a little expensive, and maybe Bob’s company is too early stages to take more clients. Still, it might be what I need.
Two more weeks later, I know he's forgotten me. In what can only be described as the consumer equivalent of, "I know he's a jerk, but I love him!" I dial Bob’s number, get voicemail, and hang up. Ugh. I really shouldn’t have to work this hard to spend money. Finally, I swallow my indignation and write a brief email asking Bob for a next date.
No response. Bob and I both lose.
It’s a sad tale that I hope helps some of you. When it comes to sales call execution and follow up, don’t be like Bob. Bob is dead to me.
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