Back when I was buying a new home, I attended a lawn and garden show with the intention of attempting to find a good landscaper. A buyer with MONEY and an immediate need. I wanted to buy, but what I came home with was a big bag of appalled. First off, all the landscape displays were woefully lacking ANY sales presence. Only ONE had a crappy brochure set out for people to take — but even THAT was a brochure produced by one of their vendors who supplied the stone on display, NOT a sales brochure for the actual landscaping company. I walked around no less than a half dozen displays that must have cost thousands to put up (not to mention the sponsorship fee they had to pay to display there) without a single person present from ANY of those companies. Where were their salespeople?
However, the sales prevention didn’t stop there. I went on to visit another dozen or so vendors WITH salespeople who would have been better off left at home and replaced with a brochure. Not one — NOT ONE — attempted to ask any closing questions. NOT ONE attempted to make me a “show special” offer. NOT ONE asked for my information so they could follow up. Seriously, what a bunch of knuckleheads.
In the case of a specialty concrete company, I asked a ton of buying questions and was very interested in having them do work at my new home. I spent roughly 15 minutes flipping through a book of pictures, asking about textures and colors. The sales rep (if they could be called that) never even suggested I come visit their showroom. In fact, they never even asked what my first name was and just let me and my husband walk off without even trying to capture our contact information!
Now, let’s imagine REAL salesmanship and leadership existed in these companies.
The Fairy Salesmother visits, waves her magic wand, and suddenly, there’s a professional and effective sales program in place. Now, instead of having some goofball with greasy hair tucked under a baseball cap who stinks of smoke and is talking to their friends on their cellphone while I patiently wait to ask them what it would cost to fit my 9,000-squarefoot home with the retractable screens they were selling (and who didn’t hang up but just held the phone away from their mouth and said, “You need help?”), someone actually gets a friendly, enthusiastic, and well-trained SALESPERSON to WORK the booth.
This salesperson addresses people as they walk by, doesn’t have their nose glued to their cellphone the whole time; and actually attempts to ask some closing questions and asks for my email address — or heck, even a mailing address that they type into an iPad on the spot so it instantly gets entered into the company’s CRM, which then automatically associates it with that show for ROI purposes and kicks off a series of automated messages designed to get me into the showroom. Maybe one of the tasks set up is to mail me a Shock-and-Awe box with an authoritative book, a box of popcorn to entice me to watch their well-crafted sales presentation, along with a book of happy client testimonials, a client bill of rights, a guarantee certificate, and a personal, handwritten note from the person in the booth thanking me for my time and offering me a bonus, discount, or other incentive to entice me to buy NOW. And then maybe it triggers the salesperson to actually call me and follow up the following week. (More on what makes a true sales professional here)
Now, stretch your imagination a bit further …
Let’s imagine there’s actually some MANAGEMENT going on. That the sales manager or owner of the company actually goes on-site with the rep for at least part of the show to ensure they have the pitch down and that they’re capturing prospects’ information correctly before setting the sales team loose with no supervision for the four days of the event. Let’s imagine they actually sit down with the rep after the event and review all the leads that have come in, questioning each one to find out what happened, what the next steps were, who’s likely to close, etc. And let’s go wild and assume the owner/manager actually picks up the phone and secret-shops 1 out of every 10 leads who didn’t book an appointment or didn’t buy to check up and see what went wrong.
And in a complete flight of fancy, let’s imagine that after a few weeks of these productivity and sales reviews, there are actual consequences and people actually lose their jobs for not following a fully detailed sales process or for simply being sloppy and lazy with the leads that were produced. Unheard of! I’ll bet you a dollar to a doughnut that many of the reps/companies that were there produced ZERO return for their investment of time and money, complaining all the while about the show, the lack of qualified prospects, etc., etc. You know, I don’t expect everyone to be as experienced and capable at sales and marketing as I am, but COME ON! How do these people actually stay in business?
If YOU want to make sure you’re not in the same boat, you had better get to work on crafting a marketing/sales process, then constantly review, tweak, and INSPECT IT to make sure what you want to be done is actually being done. The SAME goes for the technical/operations side of the house. Don’t expect what you don’t INSPECT. Remember the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.