“Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe.” —Albert Einstein
BACK TO SCHOOL LESSON: Is it laziness or stupidity? On a recent sales call with a company that will remain nameless, I stumped the salesperson with the very first question I had about how her software compared with the company we were currently using (but were unhappy with) and with one other competitor we were considering. Not only did she not know how to answer that, but she wasn’t even familiar with either of the companies I mentioned, both of which are very well-known, direct competitors to her.
My second question was, “Show me how this integrates into the CRM we’re currently using,” which is a very basic question that most prospects would have due to the nature of what she is selling. Again, she was completely clueless other than to say, “Yes, it integrates,” but she couldn’t show me more because their demo site wasn’t working.
I abruptly ended the meeting, completely annoyed, since this was the single reason we scheduled the call. If she was a true professional, she should have let us know so we could have at least rescheduled instead of her fumbling around like a blind idiot, unable to answer the key questions and concerns we had already shared with her in advance of the call so she could prepare.
Lesson 1: Be prepared
This is why so many people want to avoid salespeople like a bad smell—most of them add absolutely NOTHING OF VALUE to the buying experience and are either too stupid or too lazy to do any type of research into their customers, their competition, or how their customers will actually use their products and services so they can be more than a check-taker.
She should have been overjoyed that I actually told her who she was competing against for the sale—a piece of information that if used correctly could have been her trump card to winning the account. But her lack of knowledge about them (and us) gave me the clear message that she was either too stupid or too lazy to educate herself on some of the most basic knowledge any salesperson should have before trying to make a major sale to a potential client.
This also gave me zero faith in anything she WAS telling me or promising and gave me no reason to believe she could actually deliver a solid, thorough, and professional job for me once I wrote the check. I can only imagine how many deals she’s burned over this. Even more stupid is the management team of this company if they’re letting her loose to talk to potential customers without quizzing her on basic sales questions, listening to her calls, etc. Of course, this behavior is rampant and more the norm than the exception.
These days, it’s ridiculously easy to research competitors AND clients, so there’s no excuse for this. What’s even worse is that she’s supposed to be a sales professional, selling high-end, sophisticated solutions to other business professionals. I’ve gotten better, more helpful, and more knowledgeable service from the stock clerk at my local Publix grocery store. BACK TO SCHOOL LESSON #1: Be able to concisely and truthfully answer the question, “Why should I buy from you over your competition?”
Lesson 2: Keep working hard
The other sales person who should be booted off the team is our current account manager at a company that we’re about to replace. Our contract is up for renewal (which is why we’re looking), and the only “marketing” we’ve gotten is an annoying pop-up about our contract expiring that appears when we log in to our portal. BACK TO SCHOOL LESSON #2: You need to work as hard at keeping a customer as you do getting them in the first place.
So there you have it, two critical sales lessons to kick off the “Back to School” season, even though you should have been a serious student all through the summer. I was a weird kid who actually liked school and hated the summer break. I found it boring. Most folks, I find, do not share the same passion for learning and still need someone to get `em up in the morning and remind them to do their homework at night. *Sigh.*
If you’re a “get `r done” person like me, at least take some comfort in knowing most of your competitors are like the sales person I described, too lazy or too stupid to do the hard work necessary to beat you. So grab your yellow #2 pencil and your Trapper Keeper notebook and let’s get back to school…