Warning: You are Losing Money by Not Coaching
As a consultant I try my best to stay on top of trends and technologies that impact either my customers, or my ability to service my customers. This means hours each week dedicated to demos, articles, and research. Demos often turn into conversations with a sales professional, including opportunities for referrals or to partner on projects.
A great example would be reviewing a job board. While looking at the features and considering benefits of their product, I also have my networking hat on. The sales person for that job board is most likely selling to the same audience I am…could we refer each other business? Perhaps s/he has a customer that could use my help with training or adoption challenges? Can I offer to make an introduction to someone in my network at a company that s/he has been trying to connect with? This short demo could turn into a lead generation tool for years to come.
So imagine my surprise, when a sales person (whose product shall remain nameless) told me his team doesn’t have the time to speak with me until I have a client that is a potential buyer now. Yes this really happened. The initial conversation went something like this…
Sales Person (SP): You recently visited our website and said you’d like to be contacted. What can I help you with?
Me: Yes, I was actually doing some research for one of my clients. To be honest we went in another direction – however I would love to learn more about your product.
SP: But you don’t have a need?
Me: I am a consultant. I help staffing organizations reach their goals. I don’t have a client this exact second that could use your product, but that could change rather quickly.
SP: I think it would be best to wait until you have a client with a need.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation – basically they are too busy to be strategic. Too busy to speak with potential future customers. Too busy to have a conversation to promote their product. Too busy to even attempt to figure out if I may have a need now that maybe I don’t recognize.
The best thing that will come out of this – an example to use when I train sales people. The lesson: sales activities are not necessarily about immediate gain. It can take weeks, months, even years to cultivate a relationship. Successful sales people build alliances, establish credibility, and take every opportunity to promote themselves as a solution provider.
I can't imagine that in this story, the sales leader at his company would say "good job handling that one"...but how is this person, who by the way continues to call me every 6 or so weeks asking if I have a need yet, not being coached to become stronger?
So ask yourself – could this story be your organization? Are you developing your team to have better, more meaningful connections? How often are you coaching and providing feedback? What woudl happen if your sales team was better at what they do?