Earlier this year, I bought a beach house on the Florida panhandle in an area that the locals call “30A,” which is the name of the road running through all the little beach towns between Panama City and Destin.
The house was newly constructed and came semi-furnished. Wanting to change some of the furniture and buy a considerable amount more, I contacted the designer who was hired by the builder to furnish the home. Of course, I didn’t get a live answer but voicemail, so I left a message. Not hearing back, I made a point of driving to their retail store to see if I could get help in ordering additional furniture. Upon entering, I was not greeted by anyone and walked around for a good 15 minutes before finally tracking down someone who worked there (I almost wrote “who could help me,” but you’ll see why I changed the wording in a minute).
She said I would have to talk to the actual designer for my specific house, and she couldn’t know who that was(!). She gave me a number to call where I could find out, leaving me to walk out empty-handed when I had come in ready and eager to buy. Stunningly stupid. No name captured and no attempt to try and sell me something — a ready-to-buy customer who drove to the location seeking to buy furniture. Easy pickings. Perhaps she’s not been told or taught that that’s her job to actually sell to customers who come in. My guess is that there’s been zero thought put into what should happen — and certainly no training for how salespeople put on the showroom floor to sell should handle prospects walking in.
Since the store visit, I’ve called twice, leaving messages, with no response so far. I’ve since given up and gone elsewhere, spending roughly $100,000 with a competitor.
Now, maybe they’re so successful they don’t need the business. Maybe. Or perhaps you think this is just my luck, since I seem to run into all kinds of businesses out there that seem to go out of their way to make it difficult for me to give them money.
However, I can assure you this scenario is one that’s played out again and again in various types of businesses I’ve attempted to buy from: salons, restaurants, doctors’ offices, banks, you name it. It’s rampant. Selling — and following up with prospects — is, at best, treated like an afterthought in most companies and a major inconvenience in others. The owner forgets that the purpose of the business is to bring in clients and sales, not just “do the work.”
Left unchecked, this total lack of structure for selling robs you of untold profits. It suppresses the return of every marketing dollar you invest and lowers your net worth. If, like me, you want to reach financial independence and true wealth as fast as you can, you’re a fool to not pay attention to how new prospective customers are greeted, handled, and followed up on (minimum). Are you lacking a strategy for maximizing every lead, every customer, and every everything in your business?
The first step in fixing this is an acceptance that it’s your job as the owner to ensure all employees are told, trained, and managed to ensure that new opportunities, leads, prospects, and even clients are handled properly so that NO opportunity is missed, overlooked, or BURNED. Now, here’s a list of ways your employees are sabotaging your marketing and your business.
1. Ignoring Your Procedures, Processes, Scripts, And Rules And Doing Whatever THEY Want To Do
I often remind my sales team that there’s not 100 “best” ways to close a sale, overcome an objection, or book an appointment. There’s one best way — let’s find out what that way is and rinse and repeat. Since we’ve already done a lot of testing and refinement to find a system that works, I do not want you to come in and deviate from that recipe unless we are doing so as a controlled test to see if we can beat the best methods we have. Not innovate, not “sort of” say things that way, but follow the process. Of course, a lot of people don’t want to be that disciplined in their speech and methods, and those people need to have their futures freed up (fired).
2. Telling Prospects And Customers Your Prices Are Too High Twice
I’ve had a salesperson look me in the eye and whisper that I ought to go buy from a competitor, and/or they give me an alternative place to purchase what I was thinking about buying. The other day, while in a cosmetics store, another customer commented to her husband, who was standing next to her, about the prices being high. The clerk, overhearing what she said, snidely replied, “The owners love to mark the prices up on everything around here and take pride in overcharging everyone,” implying she agreed with the customer and that the owners were greedy bastards who found glee in “sticking it” to their clients. Another friend of mine was sitting in a dental practice when he overheard a patient complaining about the fees he was being charged. The secretary replied, “I know. I have a friend working at another dental practice that doesn’t charge anywhere near what we charge and does just as good a job, but the doctor just bought a new Jaguar and has to pay for it somehow …” No, I’m not kidding. And if you don’t think that conversation is going on somewhere in your business, with your techs and even your salespeople, you’re grossly mistaken. It does happen and will happen, unless you are on the watch for it.
3. Treating Inbound Leads And Calls From Prospects As An Annoying, Bothersome Interruption That Should Be Ignored (If Possible) Or At Least Dealt With As Swiftly And Plainly As Possible
They are not eagerly jumping to answer the phone but letting it roll to voicemail. If they happen to pick up, their annoyance with the “interruption” is obvious in their voice. They make no effort to capture the name and full contact details of the person who called and don’t try to facilitate the sale by booking a consultation or appointment and promising to send out follow-up information by email and mail. They answer the questions fired at them as simply as possible, offering the laziest “I don’t know” and “I can’t help you with that” answers, and hang up. The end. Remember, your hottest leads are going to call your office. If you’ve not scripted out what’s supposed to happen, formulated answers to frequently asked questions, and trained the person answering the phone on the best way to handle that opportunity, start there.
4. Hiding Incomplete Work And Skipped Steps: Follow-Up Calls, Documentation, Sending Information, Making The Calls They Said They Would Make, Etc.
This is where a good CRM/marketing automation platform and dialer comes in handy. If you ask a salesperson if they hit their prospecting quota (and you have given them one, right?), they will almost always give you an enthusiastic “Yes!” Go check. Years ago, when I was working in sales at CGI Systems, the manager hired a sales assistant to help me and the other reps by entering inbound leads into our CRM, organizing, and cleaning them for us to follow up with (back then, we received a lot of fax-back forms and direct mail response forms). One day, she quit without notice to sell Herbalife, so I went through her desk to pick up the pieces. What I found was two big drawers of paper leads from prospects that were not processed and not entered into the CRM, but stuffed into a drawer to be forgotten about. Both drawers were so full I could barely open them. This may seem like an extreme example, but over and over again, I see salespeople skipping steps, not making calls, not following the script, not leaving notes, etc. I recently had to fire a rep because she simply refused to follow the steps and cost us two sales, and if it’s going on in my organization where we train, script, and manage tightly, I can absolutely guarantee this is going on in your organization too.
5. Falsifying Sales Statistics
This is similar to the above but worth noting. I often get told a campaign “isn’t working,” only to find out that the sales or marketing team is outright lying about the data for a number of reasons. One reason is to cover up the mishandling of leads (see No. 4). Other times, they simply don’t like the ads and, therefore, take a passive-aggressive stance on trying to undermine the efforts of the CEO and me. If they are a marketing person, they sometimes want to sabotage the marketing because they didn’t create it. Salespeople will falsify stats to cover up a bad closing percentage, save face, or get out of doing the tracking because they’re busy and don’t like to do it, so they just make up the numbers.
I had a sponsor client leave the company they were working for and go to another company in the channel that also sold to MSPs. When he told the new company his plans for sponsoring our events, he was bluntly told they don’t sponsor our events because the leads are terrible and the event doesn’t deliver an ROI. Unconvinced based on his successful experience in sponsoring our events in the past, he pressed the matter and dug into the results from the last event that company had sponsored with us. Turns out that not only was it the highest-returning event they had ever sponsored in the company’s history, but it also was the only event where they actually closed sales in the booth. When he pressed the person who was sent to staff the booth on the numbers, she admitted that she falsified the results because she was busy the entire time, didn’t get breaks, and had to be in the booth for “long hours” talking to prospects and customers and didn’t want to repeat the experience.
There are more ways employees can muck up and mess with your money, and that’s what they’re doing. In some cases, you might be dealing with one or two of the above. Worse case, all five. It’s up to you to not only create the playbook of how things are done at your place of business but to also monitor, manage, and train to ensure they are actually being done that way.