“Can I Have 15 Minutes Of Your Time?”


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The phone rings, I answer, the voice on the other end asks, “Can I speak to the person in your company who is responsible for _______________ decisions?” You can fill in the blank with about anything, today it was printers, a few days ago IT Networking, another time recruiting, then telecommunications, banking, health insurance, then……….

Hesitantly, I respond, “I guess that’s me.”

The voice at the other end, “I’m from ______________, next week I am meeting with companies in your area to present our technologies (solutions) on ____________. I’d like to spend 15 minutes with you to tell you about them, there is no obligation or commitment required. Are you available on _________________”

Could anything more be wrong with this call? But I get them every week. The scripts are exactly the same, the results are always the same, but the calls continue. Stop wasting your money! Stop wasting my time–companies making these calls automatically go to the bottom of my list, should I eventually want to make a purchase in whatever area they are looking at.

What’s wrong with the call? Besides everything, let me start with a few, hopefully you can add on.

  1. They don’t know anything about me or my company. It’s easy to find that out, I have a reasonably visible profile, our company has a website, it only takes a couple of minutes to find out and personalize the discussion.
  2. When they talk to me, they never ask any questions about my business or my needs. Today, the call was about printers (from a global 50 technology company). In the past 2 years, we’ve spent less than $500 on printers–much of that was ink cartridges. Printers and print technology aren’t high on my hit parade. They aren’t keeping me up at night. But of course, the person on the phone didn’t think to ask me this. It might have been valuable to know to shape the next steps in the conversation.
  3. They are always focused on what they want to achieve–which is to get a meeting, not what I want to do.
  4. Even if I wanted to have a meeting, is that a good investment of a sales person’s time? The cost of the sales call is more than I am ever likely to spend in printers in the next year. Is this really a good “marketing qualified lead?”

I’ll stop there. Other than being annoyed, that’s not my point in this post. My issue is, as a sales or marketing executive, do these calls make sense? Do we want to be spending our money, wasting our people’s time,wasting our resources, or wasting our customers’ time on programs that are so poorly structured? Can these really produce a return?

Is getting a meeting so important? Do we want our people meeting with people who clearly aren’t in our “sweet spot?” Shouldn’t we use the telephone conversations we have to determine whether the people with whom we are seeking meetings are worth our time–or that we might leverage a different channel for certain types of customers–they may be good customers, but not for direct field sales, perhaps through telesales, eCommerce, perhaps through nurturing until they might be more receptive.

If we’re sales people making those calls, trying to set meetings. Is our time so worthless that we are willing to invest it in things that are 99.99% likely to be a waste of our time, or that can be handled purely through a phone call or through some other technique?

For the moment, don’t think about the customer, think about yourself. Are these calls worth the time and money? Is the successful outcome of these calls worth the time and money (remember the successful outcome is a meeting not a sale)? As sales people we are time poor–so we need to guard how we use our time, we need to make sure we are investing our time in meaningful activities. As sales and marketing managers, we worry about our people’s time, our resources and our money. Do we want to be wasting all of those with programs like this?

We need to be smarter about our prospecting calls. We need to be smarter about our investments in these programs. We need to be smarter about how we engage our customers. Finally, we need to realize that “Newton’s Law” applies with customer perceptions. Newton basically said, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” this global 50 company is now a company I’d be hard pressed to buy from. They apparently have no thoughts about how they want to engage prospects, they apparently have so much money they can invest in bad programs like this–give it to me in a price reduction!

FREE WEBINAR! Join us for this week’s FREE webinar from the Future Selling Institute on Running Effective Sales Meetings With Jill Myrick. Mark your calendars for Friday, April 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM EST and click here to register.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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