Pushy or Persistent?
Ah, sales people, so much blog inspiration from these calls! In theory, the marketing department works with the sales team to create wonderful synergy, and everyone makes money… in practice, that’s not always the case. Since I know a little about how this whole sales game works, I try to help the sales reps out from other companies. Namely, I try to help them out by telling them “no”. No, it doesn’t sound like your product is a fit. No, I don’t need you to send additional information. No, I will not make a purchase from you, so instead of wasting your time on me, go find a more profitable customer. Sigh… and then you have the sales reps that just. won’t. give. up. Even after I’ve been helpful in letting them know I’ll never be a good customer! I’ll nickel and dime you, pay you after the 30 days, and make myself hard to reach. Trust me, YOU DON’T WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH ME, SO JUST MOVE ON!
I had an interaction with a particularly persistent rep. He says he’s not pushy, but I’ve told him some version of “no” three different times, and he just keeps on callin’ me. Today’s interaction went like this:
Rep: I wanted to follow up on last week’s call. Did you talk to your VP about my proposal?
Me: Yes, and as I said last week, I really don’t think your product is a fit for us. I appreciate the offer of a free trial, but it’s really not what we’re looking for.
Rep: I just need one shot to prove to you that it works. Just do the free trial, and I promise I can show value.
Me: Well, as I mentioned previously, we normally set our budget in October or November, so we don’t have the budget this year. It doesn’t make sense to do a free trial for a product that I know I don’t have the money to purchase, particularly when it’s not a good fit for us. We take a survey of our customers every year, and this survey is used to help allocate the budget. Our surveys have shown that your product is not a good fit, so unless we see the tide change in this year’s survey, we won’t include the purchase in the budget. If you’d like to send over a media kit in October, I can re-evaluate the fit for the 2013 budget.
Rep: What’s going to change between now and October, honestly? It sounds like you just don’t want to put the time into it right now.
Me: If I don’t have the budget for the product, and I don’t believe it’s a good fit for our needs, it doesn’t make sense to do a free trial right now. I’m happy to re-evaluate it for 2013, but we won’t be making a purchase right now.
Rep: Are you even the decision-maker? What’s your title? Who gets to decide on this? Can you just shoot straight with me?
Me: There are several decision-makers, but let me tell how this will go: I’ll ask them again, they will tell me “no” or indefinitely delay the decision, which translates to “no”. Thus, I’ll keep telling you “no” or indefinitely delaying the decision, which translates to “no”. You’re welcome to send a proposal when we evaluate the budget for 2013, but at this time, I can tell you that we won’t be moving forward.
Rep: Ok, so if I call the VP of Sales and get his blessing, you’ll find time to do the free trial?
Me: The VP of Sales travels frequently, and he doesn’t believe it’s a good fit. You can try to reach him, but at this time, we won’t be moving forward.
Rep: Ok, thanks, I’ll try to call him. I just need one shot to convince you that I can provide value. I’m not one of those pushy sales types, so if you do the trial and it doesn’t make money for you, I’ll get out of your hair.
Me: Ok, good-bye.
Dude, you ARE a pushy sales type! I’ve told you “no” three times! I’ve also told you the timeframe that if it was ever going to move to yes (which it won’t), it would not be until 2013. I must admit that this guy did a few things well: he uncovered the timeframe for a decision, and he uncovered the decision-maker. What he failed to realize is that even though I’m “only” a gatekeeper, my bosses rely on what I tell them. So, my answer is essentially the same answer as the decision-maker, because they’ll ask me if his product provides value, I’ll tell them that I don’t recommend it, and they’ll tell me that we won’t make the purchase. Until you convince me of the value, you’re not getting a shot at the “real” decision-makers!
I’m fine with a phone call and a persistent sales rep, but this guy started rub me the wrong way. I think he could tell that I was getting annoyed, because he tried to switch to a more friendly subject… my accent. Funny story, most people I meet say that I don’t have an accent, and since this guy knows I work in the Dallas office, it’s a good bet that the hint of a southern accent that he detects probably indicates that I’m from Texas. And, after a 5 minute pushy phone call, calling out my accent doesn’t do this guy any favors.
Maybe I should be rude more often, but I feel like it’s common courtesy to politely tell a sales rep “no”. I hate watching our sales guys visit, call, and waste time on a customer that will never give us business, so I try to make sure other reps know when we won’t be making a purchase. What do you think, readers? Was this guy pushy or persistent? Was I unclear in my message about not making a purchase for at least 8 months (but really, never)?