Another Sales Conversation Opened In Confusion

This morning I received a cold call from a rep who spoke to me as if we had an existing relationship. I had never heard of him before. Yet he spoke as if we had  a few sales conversations in the past and I was familiar with his product. Naturally, I was at a loss and was frantically searching my memory for our last conversation. After telling him that I had no idea who he was, he restated his name and said, “You reached out to us a few days ago. I’m just following up to do a discovery and see how I can assist you.”

That’s when I became more confused. I didn’t remember reaching out to anyone over the previous 2 weeks, let alone the previous few days. After I stressed the point that I still had no idea who he was, he said, “Didn’t you download one of our white papers on mobile device management?” That’s when the light came on. “Oh, your following up on a white paper download. Now I understand. You said I reached out to you. There’s a big difference.” He replied, “No, not really” at which point I responded, “Yes, there is. But let’s move on” and we talked a bit about MDM software.

It wasn’t really a discussion since I was just starting to investigate MDM options. Technically, I was at the tire-kicker level. I hadn’t even had a chance to read the white paper. And since he had based his entire call around the paper, we had nothing to talk about. So, we parted ways.

2 Communication Tips To Create a Stronger Conversation

Here are two points we can learn from this sales conversation:

  1. Don’t Argue with the Prospect or Audience

    A convincing argument may seem like a viable option, but it isn’t. I can’t tell you how many prospects I lost by “winning” an argument. You are there to win them to your way of thinking, not to “pick a fight” or to “be right”. If they believe the sky is red, acknowledge that and move on (there’s going to be a sunset somewhere). When you call a prospect, your job is not to argue with them; you job is to move the sale forward. Keep that objective in mind.

  2. Take Control of the Conversation

    He used the phrase, “you reached out to us”. Now I’m sure that sounds “sales 2.0-ey” and non-threatening, but it’s too soft. As a sales rep, you need to direct the conversation in the customer’s mind so you can understand where they are and where they are going. The phrase “you reached out to us” leaves too much up to individual interpretation. “Reaching out” can be a phone call for one person, a handshake to another, and an email message to yet another. This sales rep could have eliminated over 2 minutes of confusion simply saying, “You downloaded a white paper from our site”. It’s not as flowery as “you reached out to us”, but it does have the advantage of being quick and direct. If you want to direct the conversation, you need to use “specific” language.

So what do you think? If your prospect downloads your whitepaper, are they reaching out to you or are they just kicking the tires?