I don’t know about you, but I am not a huge fan of sales presentations. I’m not even a tiny fan. When I accept an invitation to a conference call in order to learn about a vendor’s service, it’s less about me perceiving a possible benefit, and more about me attempting to appease the sales karma Gods. If I give someone a bit of my time and listen to their pitch, perhaps one of my prospects will realize the value of strategic branding and sign on the dotted line.
As someone who downloads occasional white papers, I inevitably receive calls to schedule in-depth presentations. Some I accept. Others I don’t. But it almost never fails that the person who leads the presentation will open with – “So why did you contact us?”
“I didn’t call you. Someone from your office called me.”
Rather than providing a reason for us to be on the phone together – “I was hoping you could give us some feedback on our white paper” or “What interested you in our white paper?”– they immediately launch into their sales pitch as if the phone was going to self-destruct in two minutes. If only I could be so lucky. The gentlemen leading today’s call spoke for a solid six (yes, six) minutes before stopping to take a breath. If I were a mayfly, 20% of my life would already be over without anyone asking me how I was or what I needed. Poor neglected mayfly.
Meanwhile back to the genius who spent a solid 360 seconds talking at me. I learned that he employs someone with a Ph.D. in cognitive behavior while he asked nothing about my team or my clients. He listed his core competencies before ever asking me about my needs. What do I care if you are an accomplished cheese maker if I am lactose intolerant?
I confess that his mad cheese making skills are an exaggeration used to make my point. The fact is I had stopped listening to what he was really saying….until he said that they could design websites for our clients since we did not provide that service. <Insert needle scratching off the record sound effect.>
“Excuse me,” I interjected, “but we do design websites.”
“Really?” <Cue chirping crickets.> “Hmmmm. But we also……” and he was off and running again for another two solid minutes.
At minute nine, he actually stopped and asked what type of clients we served and what needs we had. Really, at this stage in our relationship? Are you kidding me? He’s like the husband who turns to his soon to be ex-wife in divorce court and says, “I understand exactly what you mean. You are so right. Let’s cuddle.” Too little. Too late.
Before either of us wasted another minute, I ended the call with a polite, “I don’t think we’re a good fit” which sounded better than “You don’t care about me and you never have.”
Since hanging up, I have made it my mission to prevent projectile presentations from occurring. I vow to educate salespeople on:
- The benefits of asking prospects open-ended questions
- The hazards of not reviewing a prospect’s website before a call
- The risks of spouting a laundry list of services before identifying a need
- And the stupidity of promoting web design services to a business that designs websites
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