Saturday, 13 June 2009

How not to sell

I was cold called last week by a company who left a message saying "we want to talk to you about business coaching". My assumption was that this was a potential customer.

When I called back it was very apparent that I was speaking to someone in a call centre because of the level of noisy conversations in the background, not to mention the music from the radio!

Being curious, as I often am because of the opportunity to "research", I decided to let Heather do her stuff. She proceeded to ask me how business was doing and went on to ask how I got my business. I told her that I wasn't in fact looking for business coaching work right now as I was focusing on Speaking with Power, as well as BNI and my other business interests.

Undeterred she went on to tell me about her fantastic service that offered a website with guaranteed traffic and unlimited update capability. This got my interest knowing that one of the ways to help your site improve its search engine ranking is regular content updates.

I listened intently for about 35 minutes, asking all the right questions and getting lots of promises. Heather told me it would cost £399 plus 12 monthly payments of £60 before very crudely jumping straight in with "how would you like to pay - debit or credit card?"

I responded by reminding her that I had not yet decided to proceed and would she send me the information to confirm what she had told me. Flustered, she then wanted me to go to a website to look at the information. However, as I was in the car this was not going to work so we arranged to talk again the following day at 2pm.

Sophie called the next day, 20 minutes late. By this time I had researched the company and the numerous websites that had discussions and complaints about the service being offered. Oh, how I love the internet for easy access information!

Sophie told me that Heather was off sick today so she was calling on her behalf. She did not know how much I knew so asked if I had any questions.

I repeated that I wanted to see exactly what I was signing up for before making a commitment and after a rather protracted conversation I was able to establish that terms and conditions were in fact on their website. I printed them off and she went straight with how was I going to pay. Rather annoyingly for her, I suggested she call me back once I'd had a chance to read through the document.

I did indeed read the conditions and highlighted at least 20 points that raised questions for me. Needless to say Sophie became even more frustrated but tried to answer my queries anyway. The fact that she had to keep putting me on hold to ask her manager told me she really didn't know what she was selling and no real idea how the service was supposed to help me.

We finally got through all my questions and I admitted that I saw little point in continuing our discussion because "I didn't feel that she was providing the type of service I need". Sophie responded with obvious irritation and told me she thought she had answered all my questions and could not see why I didn't want buy.

After an exchange of views I suggested we go back to my first point:

"Heather had told me that I could have unlimited updates and these would be done by personal account manager and there was no charge for this. You [Sophie] have confirmed this is true, but the second paragraph states that updates are done free of charge for the first 30 days. This implies that you will not in fact update as Heather had told me. I want a service that if I needed to, could update every single day, by telephone, knowing it would be done. You can't or are unwilling to do this, so the service is not what I need."

Sophie then proceeded to tell me that I would never need such a service and it was ridiculous!

I thanked her and told Sophie that she clearly did not understand MY business and how I might want to develop it in the future via my website(s).

Still not listening she told me that their service would do exactly what I wanted and if I did want to update everyday, I could do it myself using their software.

Bored by now, I repeated myself yet again and finished the call, astounded that this company could be so inept.

If you're providing a product or service then it is important to recognise that a) some people won't need or want what you are offering, and b) if people give you feedback on the product or service that suggests you are not meeting their needs or wants, at least have the decency to listen to what they have to say and respect their opinion.

The customer is always right, even when they might be misguided. They want what they want or need what they need, and in any event they are the customer. If you think you can help them realise that what they think they need is not in fact what they actually need, and your product or service can truly help them, then give them the respect they deserve and educate them with care.

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